If you own any product you have probably heard the term product liability, but what exactly does that term mean? How can you file a product liability claim? Is it worthwhile to do so? Which situations apply? Well, let our accident attorneys and product liability lawyers answer all of your questions.
Defining product liability law
Product liability is defined as an area of the law that governs an injury caused by a dangerous or improperly designed product. Recovering these types of damages is slightly easier than that of a personal injury case because damages do not require negligence to be proven.
To further explain, think of it this way, when you file a product liability claim it is not you vs another individual, it is you vs a manufacturer or retailer. In this situation, it is the responsibility of that body to ensure that any recalls or defects in the product are stated or fixed before distribution. Additionally, all distribution chains can be held liable in these cases. The reason for this is that distribution chains may only market products that meet ordinary individuals' expectations.
Those ordinary expectations can be broken into two:
Products must do the job the manufacturer created them and advertised them to do.
The product must be safe. This means no defects or danger should be caused by the item or product.
While these may seem like basic things some products do occasionally fail to meet these criteria. That is when a product liability lawyer should be called in to assess and evaluate what options your case may present and whether it qualifies under these means or not.
Legal bases for product liability lawsuit
According to the Florida Statute in Section 768.81(1)(d), “products liability action means a civil action based upon a theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or similar theories for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”
Now you are probably asking, well what does that mean? So let's break that down since there are a lot of different types of product liability cases and not all are made equally:
Let's talk about Strict Liability:
Strict product liability rules that victims who are hurt by defective products can pursue claims for compensation without showing negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Unlike most personal injury cases, there is no need for a plaintiff to prove that a defendant acted unreasonably, carelessly, or did something wrong on purpose that resulted in harm. Strict liability theory, states that the plaintiff's injury entitles them to obtain money for damages without having to prove these elements of a case.
The manufacturers can be held responsible any time items are released to the public and cause direct harm even if the intention or action led to the problem occurring.
If your case falls under the category of negligence, which is the way most personal injury cases go, there are certain criteria your case has to meet. This means that you are alleging that the manufacturer either negligently designed an inherently unsafe product, in the case of a design defect claim or that they allowed negligent practices in the manufacturing process.
These cases involve a large amount of proof on the plaintiff's side. Negligence in product liability claims mostly relates to extreme situations, such as a wrongful death. An example of this would be if an airbag did not deploy during a car accident which led to the death of the individual involved. In any case, an attorney's assistance in these situations is the best route to go.
It's also important to note that most times negligence in a product liability case is usually combined with another type of claim.
Breach of warranty:
A breach of warranty is when a product liability case when a product doesn't perform, function as intended, or it fails to last as long as promised. This can also come to play when the product is marketed as a safe object when dangers are inherent in relation to the products design. Take medications as an example, most adverse side effects aren't usually mentioned but they can have a warning label that is worded poorly or is in a place that isn't apparent to the average consumer.
The warranty on a product can either be express or implied warranty. Here's the difference...
An express warranty does not need to be written, this can be verbally communicated through a sales pitch or to close the deal on a product. A great example
An implied warranty is when a product conducts a task it is designed for its intended purpose it just performs poorly. This could be if it accidentally caused an injury that is reasonable based on its use.
Tort liability indicates that someone is held accountable for wrong actions (other than under contract.).
Tort law is tied to civil court claims. It’s an area of English common law meant to right a wrong (violation of common law, social norms, or civil law) without involving criminal punishment. For this reason, the compensation for a tort in most cases comes in the form of financial payback for damages.
To be deemed in breach of a tort, the injured party (referred to as the plaintiff) must demonstrate that the actions of another party (the defendant) resulted in harm. However, it goes beyond mere harm. The plaintiff must also affirm the following:
They possessed a legally safeguarded right, and the defendant had an obligation to safeguard it.
The defendant neglected or breached that obligation to safeguard.
The plaintiff suffered harm, and the harm led to any of the subsequent consequences: a. Loss of prospective income b. Loss of earnings c. Pain and suffering d. Medical expenses
The harm or injury was a direct consequence of the defendant's failure or breach.
In certain instances, the court may grant punitive damages. These are monetary awards mandated by the court to deter the recurrence of such actions.
What type of product defects constitutes a product liability claim?
In the intricate realm of product liability, establishing culpability involves proving that the product causing harm was inherently flawed. Amid the panorama of liability theories, three distinct categories of defects emerge, each capable of inflicting injury and paving the way for manufacturer or supplier accountability:
1. Design Defects: Unraveling the nuances of peril, certain products pose threats even when impeccably crafted. Here, the flaw lies in the product's design, harboring a hazardous condition that renders it inherently unsafe. Picture a scenario where a car erupts into flames upon collision near the gas tank, exemplifying the perilous consequences of a design defect.
2. Manufacturing Defects: While the blueprint might be sound, the actual execution can falter. Manufacturing defects arise when the product, although well-conceptualized, encounters issues during production or assembly. Imagine a child's toy where inadequately secured small pieces transform into a choking hazard, vividly illustrating the ramifications of a manufacturing defect.
3. Marketing Defects: Beyond the tangible product, the narrative of liability extends to how it's presented to the consumer. Marketing defects encompass lapses in labeling, instructions, misrepresentation, or the absence of adequate warnings. This realm often unfolds in the domain of hazardous drugs and defective medical devices, where manufacturers, aware of detrimental side effects, opt not to disclose, jeopardizing consumer safety for the sake of sales.
In the intricate dance between production and protection, understanding these facets of product defects becomes paramount for navigating the complex landscape of product liability claims.
Is Product Liability Governed by Federal or State Law?
When it comes to product liability, federal law is non-existent, claims in this realm are typically governed by state laws and hinge on principles of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. In the context of Florida, distinct legal nuances come into play. The state's product liability landscape is shaped by its commercial statutes, which, following the Uniform Commercial Code model, delineate warranty rules that significantly impact such cases.
Should you find yourself injured due to a defective product in Florida, your personal injury attorney will initiate legal proceedings in the state court system. Importantly, you must file your claim within the stipulated timeframe set by Florida's statute of limitations, as each state maintains its unique deadline. This underscores the critical need for timely action to safeguard your legal rights within the specific parameters of Florida's legal framework.
How are product liability claims different from other personal injury cases?
Personal injury pertains to enduring physical or mental harm caused by either another individual or an object—a violation of personal rights. It's important to note that personal injury excludes damage to property, as property rights constitute a distinct legal domain.
On the other hand, product liability centers around a manufacturer's accountability for the products they produce. If a manufactured product inflicts physical or mental harm on an individual, the responsibility falls on the manufacturer. However, the path to compensation is contingent upon specific conditions:
The individual sustains an injury.
The product was being used as intended.
A defect in the product directly caused the injury.
In cases where an individual becomes a victim of personal injury due to a manufactured product, they may have the right to seek compensation from the manufacturer, provided these outlined conditions are met.
Were You Hurt By a Dangerous Or Defective Product? Call a product liability lawyer today!
In the aftermath of sustaining an injury caused by a potentially defective product, it's crucial to take proactive steps. Consider the following measures:
Photograph the Scene and Product: If feasible post-injury, document the accident site and the involved product through photographs. This visual evidence can be instrumental.
Seek Medical Attention: Obtain prompt medical care for the injury, as a comprehensive record is pivotal. Additionally, gather evidence related to the incident and work on identifying the specific defective product responsible for the harm.
Document Your Account: Record your account of the situation promptly to preserve crucial details. Include actions preceding the incident in these notes to preclude potential claims that your actions contributed to the product malfunction.
Collect Witness Information: Obtain contact details of potential witnesses to corroborate your account of the incident.
Exercise Caution on Social Media: Refrain from discussing the incident on social media or publicly sharing your experience. Words you express could be exploited against you in court.
In safeguarding your rights, it's advisable to retain the actual product as evidence if possible. Now, when navigating the complexities of a product liability case, enlisting the expertise of a seasoned product liability lawyer, such as those at Demesmin and Dover Law Firm, becomes paramount. Their experience ensures adept handling of legal intricacies, bolstering your pursuit of justice and rightful compensation.