Most of the time, auto accidents occur due to human error. However, in a minority of cases, a mechanical problem or other internal issue with a vehicle can also play a role. These cases become more complex than a simple auto accident – if it can be proven that a part or parts of the vehicle were defective, you may be able to win compensation from multiple defendants, depending on the facts in your case.
Texas Product Liability Law
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind regarding product liability law in Texas is that it is a strict liability offense. This means that unlike in a standard personal injury case, negligence on the part of the defendant does not have to be established – if it can be shown that the defendant’s product (that they manufactured or, in some cases, sold) had a defect, and the defect had a part in causing the accident, they will be held liable for injuries suffered by the plaintiff. This does not mean that the plaintiff somehow has an easier mission; the standard of proof to establish strict liability is fairly specific and stringent.
In some cases, strict liability can also be shown not just by a defect in the product, but also by showing that the product was known to be potentially dangerous if used exactly as directed. This is referred to in legal terms as a failure to warn – examples of this might be airbags known to not deploy in certain specific situations. The risk might be extremely low, but if you are one of those for whom the effect occurs, the odds are irrelevant. Failure to warn is considered a product defect under Texas law.
Multiple Claims and Defendants
One particular feature of trying to bring suit for a defective product claim in Texas is that it is possible to join several defendants into the one suit if you have reasonable belief that they could have made changes to the part. For example, if you were in an auto accident due to defective brakes, you might sue the auto manufacturer, but you might also join the brake manufacturer or the plant where the car was assembled. Texas law does not permit joinder of sellers in most cases, but manufacturers will usually still be on the proverbial hook.
In some instances, you may also be able to bring a claim for negligence against another driver, in addition to your product liability claim, because in some accidents the defect alone would not be enough to cause an accident. Unlike in strict liability, however, Texas law requires that four criteria be established in negligence cases: the existence of a duty of care, a breach of that duty, harm suffered by the plaintiff, and a showing that the harm had to have occurred due to the defendant’s conduct. You must also be able to show that you are not more than 51 percent responsible for your injuries, or recovery will be barred.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Auto accidents may occur due to any number of things, but if you believe yours has occurred due to defective products or design, contacting an attorney is a good first step in exploring your options. The dedicated New Braunfels auto product liability attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to try and assist you with your case. Contact our office today to set up an appointment.