From computers and printers to ergonomic chairs and photocopiers, your myriad of office equipment is essential for your overall company’s productivity. However, what happens when these seemingly harmless office equipment items become sources of harm and injury?
Product liability refers to the legal responsibility of manufacturers, distributors, or sellers for injuries or damages caused by defective products.
Perhaps you, your employee, or a client suffers injuries from a new defective electrical machinery or chair. Now, the injured employee or client is at your throat demanding compensation for the personal injury they suffered within your company. But you only bought the equipment; you have zero accountability concerning its design, and neither did you know it was defective. How do you navigate such a precarious situation? How do you soothe the injured victim who has spent money on medical bills treating themselves?
Such personal injury claims regarding defective products arise constantly in the state of Texas. Product liability is complex, and determining fault can be quite challenging. But first, you have to identify if the injury actually resulted from a problem with the design or manufacturer. Whatever the case, there are Personal Injury Attorneys in Texas that handle such matters. They can help you evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident and if you have legal grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the office equipment.
That said, let’s highlight the general circumstances where product liability may arise.
In the context of defective office equipment, product liability can encompass various aspects:
- Design Defects: These occur when the product’s design itself is inherently dangerous. For example, a chair design that does not provide adequate lumbar support, leading to back injuries.
- Manufacturing Defects: These occur during the production process, resulting in individual products being different from the intended design. An example could be a faulty power supply in a computer causing electrical injuries.
- Marketing Defects (Failure to Warn or Misrepresentation): This involves inadequate warnings or misrepresentation of the product’s safety. If a manufacturer is aware of potential hazards but fails to warn users about them, they may be held liable.
If you or one of your employees or customers has suffered injuries due to defective office equipment, it’s crucial to understand your options for taking legal action. Here are steps to consider:
1. Seek Medical Attention: Ensure that anyone injured receives immediate medical attention. It’s wise to document injuries and treatment, as this will be essential for any legal claims.
2. Preserve Evidence: Preserve the defective office equipment, if possible, as it may serve as evidence in your case. Take photographs, collect maintenance records, and retain any packaging or manuals related to the product.
3. Consult with Legal Counsel: Consult with your Texas Personal Injury attorney about your product liability case. They can help assess the strength of your case and guide you through the legal process.
4. Identify Responsible Parties: Your attorney will work to identify the responsible parties, which may include the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the defective office equipment.
5. Document Losses: Keep records of any financial losses related to the injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation expenses. If it’s your employee or client, ask them to keep records of the same.
6. File a Lawsuit: If negotiations with the responsible parties and their insurers do not result in a fair settlement, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for damages. There have been a plethora of successful personal injury cases in Texas. As long as you have evidence, it’s easier for your attorney to prove your case before the court.
7. Explore Settlement: In many cases, product liability claims are settled out of court. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair settlement that covers your losses and damages.
8. Prepare for Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to trial. Your attorney will build a strong case and represent your interests in court.
Some common examples of injuries caused by defective office equipment include:
- Electric Shocks: Faulty wiring or electrical components can lead to electrical shocks when operating office equipment like computers or printers.
- Ergonomic Issues: Poorly designed office chairs or desks can result in back pain, repetitive stress injuries, and other ergonomic problems.
- Exposure to Harmful Chemicals: Office equipment emitting harmful chemicals or fumes can lead to respiratory or other health problems.
- Fire Hazards: Overheating or electrical malfunctions in office equipment can lead to fires, posing significant risks to safety and property.
Defective office equipment is a common issue in Texas that business owners and managers should be aware of. You have a responsibility to use only safe and quality equipment in your workplace. If peradventure, you get your hands on a product that seems safe but isn’t because of a design defect or because you were not warned of the risks, you have the right to sue the manufacturer for damages.