11 Mar 2023
6 Mar 2023
Nearly everyone has had a negative experience with a defective product. Whether you purchased a meal that gave you food poisoning or a tool that broke on its first use, you likely remember the frustration and disappointment you felt. If it was a cheap item and didn’t significantly impact your life, you probably just let the experience go and avoided repurchasing the same product. But what if the stakes were higher and the defective product caused you serious injuries? In these cases, you have the right to seek compensation through the court for the damages you’ve experienced due to the faulty product.
Product liability is a branch of personal injury law. The purpose of product liability is to provide consumers with a way to hold manufacturers and others in the supply chain responsible for defective products that cause harm. This keeps products safer for everyone and holds manufacturers to a high-quality standard in the items they sell. A product is usually defined as a piece of tangible personal property. Ideas or other intangibles are generally not considered products for the purposes of these legal cases. A product liability lawsuit may be warranted if a consumer uses a product with any defect and the product injured them due to the defect. There are three main kinds of product liability cases:
The majority of product liability claims are strict liability claims. When consumers buy a product, they anticipate it will be safe. If the product is defective and the defect directly causes an injury, then the injured consumer may be able to seek damages under strict liability.
Every item you purchase comes with two types of warranties: express and implied. The express warranty includes anything the manufacturer explicitly claims about the product’s safety and how it will perform. The implied warranty is the basic assumption that if a product is used in the manner intended, it will not harm the user or anyone else. A serious injury that occurs while correctly using a product may constitute a breach of warranty.
Producing a safe product is the responsibility of every manufacturer, no matter what they make. Manufacturers should closely monitor every step of the manufacturing process and conduct tests as needed to check the quality of their items. If the manufacturer produces an unsafe product due to carelessness or inattention, and they should have realized the product was dangerous, they may be liable due to negligence.
Similar to other personal injury claims, product liability lawsuits are subject to Florida’s statute of limitations rules. A statute of limitations sets a time limit on how long a claim is valid. If you attempt to file a claim after the time specified by the statute of limitations has passed, the court will dismiss it. According to Florida’s laws, if a defective product injures you, you have four years from the date of the injury to file a claim. If your loved one died due to injuries sustained from a defective product, you have only two years to file a wrongful death claim.
In theory, manufacturers want to provide the best possible products to their consumers to keep them safe, and satisfied, and purchase more products. So why do defective products happen? There are many ways that defects can enter the distribution chain and lead to dangerous items ending up in the hands of consumers. Frequently, they are caused by inadvertent errors within the manufacturing or design process. However, other times companies choose to cut corners on safety or quality control to save on costs, to the detriment of consumers. Other times, the manufacturer is found to have known about the defect all along, but they still chose to produce and sell the product.
While there are a wide variety of specific defects that can occur in items, they are often categorized into three general groups based on their cause:
This is an inherent flaw in the original design of the product that leads to it being unsafe. This defect will typically be found in every instance of the product from the manufacturer.
If a product could potentially be dangerous to use and the manufacturer is aware of this fact, then they need to provide clear and conspicuous warnings to the consumer about the danger. Warning labels must be written and displayed in specific ways based on guidelines. If the manufacturer did not warn of a danger or did not write and display the warning correctly, and the consumer was injured, the manufacturer could be held liable.
If a product has a solid design, but a flaw was introduced during the manufacturing process which subsequently caused harm, the manufacturer, assembler, or another responsible party could be held liable. Usually, only a small number of products are impacted by defective manufacturing.
In the past, the injured parties had to prove that they were the individuals who purchased the defective products to bring product liability lawsuits. Luckily, that has changed in almost all jurisdictions. Now, any person injured by a defective or dangerous product has the right to pursue a liability case as long as the product was sold to someone at some point. With this change, even bystanders harmed by a defective product are eligible to recover compensation from the responsible parties for their losses.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, any entity within the distribution chain could potentially be held responsible for a product liability claim, including:
Any manufacturers of components within the product
In most cases, liability is restricted to sales that occur within the usual supply chain. For example, a person who resold their used item at a garage sale generally couldn’t be held liable for a defective product.
The extent of damages caused by a defective product can vary as widely as the defects themselves. A malfunctioning pacemaker will be much more dangerous and debilitating than a faulty pencil. There are three categories of damages available in product liability cases. Economic damages are tangible financial losses you’ve experienced due to your injuries and can include:
Medical expenses, including hospital bills, follow-up appointments, surgeries, and
Durable medical or mobility equipment.
Costs of long-term care necessary after an accident, including home health services.
Compensation for alterations to one’s home or vehicles to accommodate long-term disabilities.
Loss of future earning capacity.
Loss of employment benefits such as health insurance or pensions.
Compensation for repairing or replacing personal property damaged or destroyed by the defective product.
Non-economic losses are non-monetary damages a person has experienced and may continue to experience due to their injuries. A compassionate product liability attorney will work to understand your situation and calculate a fair settlement amount that includes compensation for these non-economic losses:
Pain and suffering.
Disfigurement or scarring.
Loss of quality of life, including a reduction in your life expectancy caused by your injuries.
Loss of life’s enjoyment due to your injuries.
Loss of consortium/companionship can be awarded to your close family members or spouse if they have experienced the loss of your care, emotional support, affection, and guidance.
Product liability cases can be long, fact-intensive affairs. Large companies often employ their own team of lawyers to fight against liability cases, especially ones where many victims could be involved, and the financial stakes are high. To prove product liability, you must be able to show two things: first, that you were using the product correctly at the time of the injury; second, you must be able to prove the defect in the product directly caused your injuries. Collecting this proof can require a thorough investigation of the product, its design, the manufacturing plants where it was made, and the accident scene.
Galimidi Law believes consumers should be protected from dangerous products, and anyone who puts defective products in consumers’ hands should be held liable for their actions. If a defective product has harmed you, call us today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights in pursuing a product liability case.
DocPro has the following product liability disclaimer which you may use:
(These documents are not related to the author, Emanuel Galimidi and the following parts do not constitute part of the original blog article.)
Product Liability Disclaimer
This document enables the client to release the company from any liability arising out of their use of products.
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