All manufacturers owe a legal duty to consumers. When it comes to issues of product design, the duty includes designing reasonable safe products. This is an obligation placed on manufacturers by law. This duty extends to both intended and reasonably foreseeable uses of the product.
In this article, Texas products liability attorney Michael Grossman explains what negligent design is and how it plays into a product liability case.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How does negligent design impact a product liability case?
- What exactly is negligent design?
- What kinds of damages are possible to recover from a negligent design case?
What Makes Negligence Design Unique?
When there is a possibility of a design defect, there are certain things to consider. The key to a design defect claim is that the plaintiff must prove (beyond a preponderance of the evidence) that there was a safer design available. In addition to the legal duty mentioned earlier, manufacturers must also include safeguards or devices that would protect the consumer against foreseeable risk of injury presented by the particular design.
For instance, let's say you've designed the best kitchen knife in the world. It cuts smoothly, slices so thinly you'd hardly believe it, and they look really nice. The handle is smooth and flows directly into the plane used for cutting. It's foreseeable that, should the knife get wet during use, or should the user's grip alter, their hands might slide down the handle to the blade causing injury. One might argue that the manufacturer has the duty to alter the handle to create friction that would reduce the risk of sliding or add a textured guard at the transition between handle and blade to stop the user's hand should it begin to slide.
Let's look at one more example. You run to the store to grab a thermos so you can take hot soup with you to your kid's sports event later. After you fill it, you pick it up, and your hands are immediately burned badly as the thermos was not designed to insulate the heat from radiating directly outwards through the side of the thermos.
This is obviously a problem with the fundamental design of the product. Either the interior sides should be insulted so that only a safe amount of heat passes through into the consumer's hands, or there should be an additional protective added to the outside made of a nonconductive substance so that the consumer is protected.
Types of Damages Available to Recover
If the plaintiff can prove that the design defect was the producing cause of the personal injury, property damage, or death, then they are eligible to recover damages. Please keep in mind that there can be more than one producing cause. Simply put, a producing cause refers to an "efficient, exciting, or contributory cause, which, in a natural sequence, produces injuries or damages complained of, if any."
Some of the damages available for recovery in the state of Texas include:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical impairment
- Medical expenses
- A bystander can recover damages for mental anguish
- If the injury was fatal, there are additional wrongful death and survival damages available
These damages are not simply paid out to you when you make a claim. It will be necessary to prove up your losses. An experienced attorney will know how to assist you, and explain the types of documentation and evidence needed in order to be successful.
Call Grossman Law Offices
As you can see, there are many complex issues to be considered when handling a personal injury claims resulting from a product design defect. Fortunately, Grossman Law Offices has over 25 years of experience with cases in the state of Texas. We know this area of the law well, and we're happy to help you however we can. If you'd like to talk to an experienced attorney about your claim, how a product liability claim works, or anything else, we're available to you 24/7.
You can call us at (855) 326-0000 whenever is most convenient for you. We look forward to hearing from you.
Other articles about third-party cases that may be helpful:
- An Overview of the Texas Products Liability Act
- What Kinds of Damages Are Recoverable Under Texas Law?
- How Litigation Works In Texas