Select your state

Product liability

Product liability refers to a claim or lawsuit against a manufacturer or seller of a product for the recovery of damages related to personal injury, death, or property damage claimed to be caused by a defective product.

The claim or lawsuit may be based on the legal theories of strict tort liability, strict products liability, negligence, misrepresentation, breach of express or implied warranty, or any other theory or combination of theories.

Product liability claims may be made against the manufacturer of component parts, an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retailer. And product liability claims may be made by the consumer who purchased the product or by someone else who borrowed or used the product.

Product liability laws vary from state to state, and product liability claims may be based on the state’s court opinions (also known as case law or common law) or on the state’s statutes—which are usually the version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) adopted by the state.

For example, under a state’s version of Article 2 of the UCC (dealing with sales of goods) there are implied warranties of merchantability and of fitness of the goods for a particular purpose included in every sale of goods. In some states these warranties may be waived by agreement, but in other states they may not be waived. See U.C.C. §2-314 and U.C.C. §2-315.

And under a strict liability theory of products liability, the amount of care or precaution taken by the manufacturer is not relevant—the manufacturer will be liable for the harm result from the defective product.

To prevail on a products liability claim, the claimant or plaintiff must prove the product:

• was defective in its design (a design defect) because there was a safer alternative design for the product;

• was defective in its manufacture (a manufacturing defect) because its production departed from the intended design, was significantly or materially different from the other products of the same design, did not work as intended, and was more dangerous to the consumer than expected; or

• was defective in its marketing (a marketing defect) because the product’s advertising and instructions for use were inadequate or failed to warn consumers of hidden (latent) dangers in the product.

In Texas, product liability is governed by a combination of state statutes and case law. Texas follows the principles of strict liability, meaning that a manufacturer can be held liable for damages caused by a defective product regardless of the level of care they exercised. Claimants can base their lawsuits on various legal theories including strict tort liability, negligence, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty. The Texas version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) includes implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, which may not be waived in all circumstances. To succeed in a product liability claim in Texas, the plaintiff must prove that the product had a design defect, manufacturing defect, or marketing defect. A design defect means there was a safer alternative design available; a manufacturing defect indicates the product deviated from its intended design; and a marketing defect suggests that the product's marketing, instructions, or warnings were inadequate and failed to alert consumers to potential dangers.

Legal articles related to this topic