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Can my negligence relieve a manufacturer of liability?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Products Liability |

As a Texas resident, you may wonder whether your own negligence can absolve a manufacturer or product seller of all liability in a product liability lawsuit. In other words, can your misuse of a product alleviate a manufacturer if they sold you a defective product? This is a common question, especially for victims injured by a defective product.

Understanding product liability laws in Texas

Product liability refers to the legal responsibility of manufacturers, distributors, and sellers for any injuries or damages caused by their products. In our state, product liability cases are primarily based on two legal theories: negligence and strict liability.


To establish a product liability claim based on negligence, the injured party must generally prove four elements. The first is the Duty of Care. You must prove that the company owed a duty to the consumer (i.e., to provide a reasonably safe product). Next is the breach of that duty the company owed. Third, is causation. The defective product was the direct cause of the injuries or damages. Finally, there is damages. The injured party suffered actual damages, such as physical injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, etc.

Strict liability

Under Texas strict liability law, consumers can hold companies (manufacturers or sellers) responsible for injuries caused by their defective products. This is true, even if the company was not negligent. Under strict liability, the injured party must prove that the product had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous. They must prove that the defect existed when the product left the manufacturer’s control, and the defect caused the injuries or damages.

Does your own negligence relieve a manufacturer of liability?

Generally, not. Product manufacturers are aware that their products may sometimes be misused. However, they still have a duty to design products for “foreseeable misuse.” This means they should anticipate how consumers might use their products, even if not in the intended manner. If a product is unreasonably dangerous due to foreseeable misuse, the manufacturer remains liable.

Comparative fault

Our state follows a comparative fault rule. This means that a plaintiff’s negligence will not bar recovery unless the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault. If a plaintiff’s negligence is 50% or less, their damages will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. Therefore, even if a consumer’s negligence played a role in their injury, they might still recover some damages from the manufacturer or seller.

Statute of Limitations

Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations in Texas for filing product liability lawsuits. Generally, you have 2 years from the date of injury or discovery of the injury to file a claim.