Can I file a product liability lawsuit for a pre-owned product?

It is common sense to say that a maker of a product, and in some cases the person or business that acts as the retailer between the maker and the consumer, is probably liable to whoever buys the product new. This liability can take the form of a warranty claim if the product has a warranty and is still within its warranty period, but, sometimes, even if the product does not have an express warranty, the law may place upon it an “implied” warranty, such as a warranty for fitness for the general purpose for which the item is to be used.

Product liability is another potential avenue that a consumer can explore if he or she suffers harm from a new product. But what about used items? Does Texas product liability cover a second or later owner?

The answer to this question is, “Yes,” as long as you meet certain statutory requirements. In fact, in Texas a product may be the source of a product liability lawsuit for up to 15 years and, in some instances, even longer after its initial sale by its manufacturer.

There are several ways that a product can be unreasonably dangerous long after it has left the manufacturer, and even when its present owner is the second or later in the chain of ownership.

For example, a car may contain a defective part that can cause an accident, but that part may not fail as a result of its inherent defect for years and even after the car warranty has expired.

Or, you may have bought an item at a garage sale and later you found that a harmful chemical used in its manufacturing process or with which it has been treated has caused you to become ill. As long as the product is not more than 15 years old, you may still have a product liability claim.

You should not, however, confuse this 15-year product liability window with the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury which is only two years in duration. And there may be other considerations affecting your ability to sue based on defective product harm that this overview does not cover.

In any situation in which you have been injured or made ill by a defective product you should contact a personal injury attorney that handles product liability litigation as soon as possible to obtain legal advice about your possible means of redress.