What constitutes a product defect?

In a Texas products liability case, the plaintiff usually must prove that the product was defective. A defect is an imperfection that renders a product unsafe for its intended or reasonably foreseeable uses. There are three general kinds of defects: design defects, manufacturing defects, and warning defects.

Design defects exist when a whole class of products is inadequately planned, such that it poses unreasonable risks to consumers. A car manufacturer’s design of a vehicle with the fuel tank positioned so that it explodes in low-speed collisions can be classified as defective. When the design is defective, even products perfectly manufactured are defective. A production or manufacturing defect, on the other hand, arises when a sound design plan is not followed and the product is improperly manufactured.

Sometimes, something other than the product itself is defective. For instance, caustic chemicals should be packaged in appropriate containers to avoid leakage. If they are not, a products liability suit could arise. Improper labeling, instructions, or warnings on a product can also make the product defective. Dangerous products must carry warning labels that explain their proper use, the circumstances that are likely to cause harm, and what steps should be taken in an emergency involving the product. The Food and Drug Administration sets the minimum labeling standards that manufacturers must follow. Proper labeling requirements also apply to claims made in sales materials, product displays, and advertising. If these requirements are not met and a consumer is injured, a products liability suit can enable the consumer to recover the resulting damages.