Articles Posted in Dangerous or Defective Products

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April 27, 2021, Houston, TX On the evening of Friday April 16th a Tesla Model S crashed and burst into flames after hitting a tree in the Carlton Woods subdivision in the Woodlands.  The Tesla, traveling at high speed, failed to negotiate a bend and came off the road on Hammock Dunes Place, a residential street in the upscale Houston suburb. 

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said that the investigation showed “no one was driving” the fully electric 2019 Tesla Model S when the accident happened. There was a person in the passenger seat of the front of the car and in the rear passenger seat of the car. One of the men was identified as Dr. William Varner, a member of the Memorial Hermann medical system. The second victim of the Tesla crash was named as 69-year-old engineer Everett Talbot.  The accident has made national headlines because local officials investigating the incident say there was no one driving the vehicle. 

Federal investigators with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are among those now looking into the deadly accident that killed both men.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/04/Screen-Shot-2021-04-27-at-2.37.08-PM.pngSelf-driving, or autonomous cars, are revolutionizing the way the public looks at travel and car ownership. These vehicles turn active drivers into passive passengers, allowing motorists to rely on the car’s advanced computerized system to navigate the roads and avoid collisions. However, these cars may result in a serious Texas car accident, as the new technology is still being refined.

Autonomous vehicles rely on complex computer systems, sensors, actuators, and various algorithms to operate on the roads without an active driver. In theory, these cars provide a glimpse into a more environmentally friendly and safer future for road users. However, as it is, these features often present more dangers than benefits.

For example, recently, a national news report described a fatal Tesla crash involving a driverless vehicle. According to reports, the vehicle did not have a driver and was operating on high or full automation mode. As such, one of the occupants was in the front passenger seat, and the other occupants were in the back seat. The car was speeding along a dangerous curve when it slammed into a tree. Emergency responders used over 30,000 gallons of water to put out the massive fire that the collision sparked. Tesla did not respond to this incident but previously stated that their vehicles are intended to be used with an attentive driver who has their hands on the steering wheel. However, safety officials argue that the company does not do enough to deter drivers from depending too much on the vehicle’s features.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-28-at-8.44.28-PM-300x112.pngIn light of COVID-19, everyone seems to be shopping online more frequently. Whether you’re shopping online to adhere to social distancing concerns or simply out of boredom, Amazon has become an important part of regular online shopping trips in many households. When a product purchased from the online retailer, however, injures someone in your family, is Amazon liable in a Texas products liability lawsuit? Or is the entity or individual who sold you the product responsible?

In a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, the court had to consider a Texas products liability case involving a parent’s worst nightmare. The plaintiff’s husband purchased a remote control from Amazon.com. A year later, the couple’s 19-month-old baby girl swallowed the battery from the remote control. Surgeons had to remove the battery.

The plaintiff claimed that the battery’s fluid from its electrical charge resulted in severe, permanent, and irreversible damage to the child’s esophagus. After the plaintiff notified Amazon of the incident, Amazon notified the seller, who did not respond. The seller’s account was subsequently suspended. The plaintiff sued Amazon and the seller, alleging strict liability and negligence under a variety of product liability theories.

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pexels-nelly-aran-1132688-300x200Pre-prepared and packaged baby food has served as a convenient option for busy parents of infants and toddlers for decades. As parents, we only want what is best for our children, and we should be able to trust that the products we purchase for them to put into their bodies is safe and nutritious. When these food products contain contaminants that could be toxic, this oversight could lead to serious personal injury or even death to those most vulnerable. In certain cases, dangerous food products may give rise to a Texas product liability lawsuit.

According to a recent news report, federal investigators have found that some brands of baby food products contained several contaminants. Even products labeled as organic were found to be contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium. According to experts, exposure to these contaminants could pose significant risks to infants and toddlers, and heavy metals have been associated with brain damage, behavioral impairments, and even death. Because the FDA does not set limits on heavy metals specifically for baby foods, advocates argue that the agency needs to do more to regulate the industry to ensure our children’s safety.

If you have purchased baby food from any of the reported brands and your children have been injured as a result of the defective product, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. In Texas, product liability is a strict liability offense, which means that negligence does not get the manufacturer off the hook. Thus, if there was a defect in the product and it caused the injury, then the defendant is liable. Texas recognizes three types of product defects.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/01/Screen-Shot-2021-01-15-at-7.18.55-PM-300x57.pngWhen a consumer purchases a new product, they rightfully trust that the designer, manufacturer, and retailer took measures to ensure the product’s safety and efficacy. However, despite testing standards and federal oversight, some dangerous products make their way into the consumer stream. Products with a design or manufacturing defect or that are inherently dangerous may cause serious injuries and lead to a Texas product liability lawsuit. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) requires manufacturers, distributors, and similar entities to report any issues with their products and issue recalls if necessary. However, these parties may still face liability even if they issued a recall.

Texas product liability laws cover claims stemming from design defects, manufacturing defects, and warning defects. The law allows injury victims to recover damages against manufacturers or sellers of a defective product that causes personal injury, death, or property damage. Texas design defect claims are generally the most onerous product liability claim. In these cases, plaintiffs must establish that the victim suffered injuries because the product’s design was inherently dangerous. The law requires plaintiffs to present evidence of a safer and economically feasible alternative design. Manufacturing defects are relevant when the product’s design is appropriate, but something went awry during the manufacturing process that made a specific item dangerous. This type of claim may be appropriate when a manufacturer fails to meet safety or design standards. However, the claims do not apply to those who suffer injuries from a defective product manufactured before updated safety standards. Finally, failure to warn claims are applicable when a manufacturer did not provide appropriate instructions or warnings.

The New York Times recently reported that The Home Depot recalled a popular indoor/outdoor fan, after reports that the fans’ blades were detaching while spinning. The Home Depot issued a voluntary recall after nearly 50 consumer reports of detaching blades. The USCPSC, reported that The Home Depot voluntarily recalled the fans and ceased sales when they discovered the issue. They maintain that the fans are not inherently dangerous, and the hazard resulted from a manufacturing defect.

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Every year nearly 500 people in the US die from what is a preventable death: accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.  Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. end up visiting emergency rooms each year due to CO poisoning. There are many ways to protect your family, loved ones, guests and renters.  Whether you’re at home or traveling, there are steps you can take to help keep yourself and others safe from CO poisoning.

Owners of hotels, rental properties and homes have legal obligations to make sure their properties are serviced and do not pose a risk of renters, friends, family or guests developing CO Poisoning.  Winter temperatures now mean an increase in heating systems running for hours which adds to the carbon monoxide risk.

Surprisingly, fumes are produced by more than furnaces.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-28-at-8.44.28-PM-300x112.pngBecause of social distancing requirements in the wake of COVID-19, people in Texas are taking advantage of shopping from the comfort and safety of their own homes. In addition, the ease and availability of all kinds of products through online retailers has made it possible to purchase everything from your family’s weekly grocery haul to the newest gadget. But when that package arrives on your doorstep, is the item you have received safe? Outside of the convenience factor of the shopping experience, can we trust online retailers and their products? If you are a Texan who has purchased a faulty product from an online retailer that has become a hazard or dangerous, you may be eligible to receive compensation through a product liability claim.

According to a recent article, an investigation has revealed that dozens of AmazonBasics electronics and other products have remained for sale despite consumers reporting that they were potential fire hazards. AmazonBasics is one of the massive retailer’s most popular lines, with a variety of budget-friendly products that range from kitchen and home basics to electronic accessories. The investigation yielded nearly 1,500 reviews on the Amazon website involving more than 70 products described as potentially dangerous. Despite reviews on these items using terms like “hazard” or “fire” or demanding the product to be recalled entirely, many of these items still remain for sale on the retailer’s website.

Following these reports, three lawmakers are demanding the recall of any hazardous products bearing the Amazon brand. Although the retailer did not respond directly to the investigation, electrical engineers told investigators that other factors may be at play when using these products, such as faulty wiring within a home or user error. According to the engineers, electronics sold under the AmazonBasics name should not typically pose a danger to the public when properly made and used according to instructions. Critics disagree.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-08-at-9.47.57-AM.pngWednesday September 2, 2020 Cameron County:  The Texas Department of Public Safety continues to investigate a two-vehicle head-on collision that left three people dead, including two children.

The accident happened at about 1:53 p.m. Wednesday September 2nd, on FM 803 North of St. Francis Street in Los Fresnos.

Killed in the accident was Maria Guadalupe Zamora, 49, who died at the scene. Zamora’s grandchildren, Ariel Castillo, 2 and Reynaldo Alvarado, 6, both of Port Isabel, who were traveling with her, were transported to local hospitals where they later died, the DPS reported.

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pexels-anna-shvets-3987150-200x300Following the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the United States earlier this year, thousands of Americans flooded stores in search of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies. Many stores were completely wiped out from the start of the pandemic of such supplies and have taken several months to restock these products because of demand. In preparation for the uncertainty associated with the pandemic, many Texans purchased large quantities of these products. However, recent FDA recalls indicate that some of these sanitizing products may be causing members of our community to become ill. These recalls may be the basis for a Texas product liability claim.

According to a recent article, federal regulators from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been urging consumers to avoid more than 130 hand sanitizers that were previously available through stores such as Walmart and other national major retailers. The agency has cited that many of these products lack the sufficient level of alcohol necessary to effectively kill germs or that the products contain dangerous and potentially deadly levels of wood alcohol.

With hand sanitizer demand skyrocketing during COVID-19, a new rush of brands manufacturing hand sanitizer has entered the market. However, while many of these products claim to contain ethanol (otherwise known as ethyl alcohol), FDA tests have shown that they actually contain methanol, or wood alcohol. Methanol can potentially be toxic when absorbed through the skin and could even cause blindness or death if consumed. Because many products have been mislabeled, consumers would be unable to tell which items actually contain methanol. The FDA has kept an updated list of recalled products on its website for easy reference.

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medical-tools-placed-on-tray-in-modern-clinic-3884085-300x200A recent case provides insight for Texas plaintiffs suing manufacturers for injuries caused by their products. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured after her dentist inappropriately used a product to clean her dentures. The plaintiff later suffered significant injuries when the dentures were placed in her mouth. After suing the dentist and the product’s manufacturer, the plaintiff’s claim against the manufacturer was dismissed by the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiff’s claim against the manufacturer was based on a failure to warn. The theory underlying failure to warn claims is that a product’s manufacturer has a responsibility to warn users of harmful effects. As one court explained, “in a failure-to-warn case, the plaintiff must show that the warning was defective and that this…was the producing cause of the plaintiff’s injury.” These cases typically come down to a question of whether the warning was adequate. In other words, a plaintiff will generally be able to recover if the judge or jury believes that the manufacturer’s warning was not sufficient to warn the plaintiff against the type of injury that occurred.

In this case, the plaintiff’s claim was unsuccessful because the product’s label contained language warning against using the product in the manner that caused the plaintiff’s injury. The warning label on the product stated that it was not to be used to disinfect dentures or the surface of any other instrument that would come into contact with mucous membranes. By instructing his assistant to soak the dentures in the product for fifteen minutes before placing the dentures back in the plaintiff’s mouth, the dentist caused the plaintiff’s injury by using the product in the exact manner that the warning label prohibited. When a product’s warning warns against the very activity that causes injury, the warning is deemed adequate as a matter of law, and the plaintiff’s claim automatically fails. For this reason, the plaintiff’s claim was unsuccessful.

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