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How can I prove that I have been harmed by a defective product?

If you have been injured while using a product, you may have a cause of action against the manufacturer of that product. The general term for this theory of recovery is, "product liability."

Product liability can be challenging to prove. There are different ways of proving it, depending on the circumstances that led to your injury. In general, there are four ways to demonstrate product liability: negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranty and strict liability. A brief introduction to each of these approaches follows.

Negligence: Negligence means that the product manufacturer owed you a duty of care to make a safe product and breached that duty, and that the breach of duty was the direct cause of the actual harm that you suffered. Negligence depends on showing that the manufacturer should have reasonably known how the product would be used, and that it was defective given that foreseeable use.

Misrepresentation: Formally known as "tortious misrepresentation," this refers to a situation in which a manufacturer provides you with false or misleading information about a product, and you were harmed when you reasonably relied on that misinformation. The nature of the misrepresentation may be purposeful (fraud), or negligent (the manufacturer should have known that the representation about the product was not accurate). The similarity with negligence is that you must have suffered some harm from the product; a difference is that you may not need to prove that the product itself was defective.

Warranty breach: A warranty that the product will be of a certain quality for a certain period of time may be express, or implied. If the product fails to perform to the standard of any applicable warranty, a cause of action may arise.

Strict liability: In some cases if you can prove that the product was defectively designed or built, strict liability means that you would not need to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer to prevail.

This post is only a general overview of how to demonstrate products liability, and does not cover possible defenses to claims. Texas law, for example, provides third-party sellers with defenses to product liability claims that other states may not. Consulting with an attorney familiar with Texas product liability law is always the cornerstone of any inquiry about whether you have a case for a product liability lawsuit.

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