When you purchase a product, you expect it to work safely as long as you follow the instructions. However, a defective product can cause serious injuries even when used correctly. If this has happened to you, the insurance company for the product’s manufacturer or designer may offer you a settlement—but never agree to it before obtaining legal counsel. Insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible. Product liability cases are often challenging and require a great deal of investigative legwork and considerable expertise.
Our Palm Bay defective product liability lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo have the tenacity and knowledge to take these cases on and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability is the legal liability a manufacturer sustains for producing or selling a defective product. Common types of these products causing injury or death include the following:
- Consumer products
- Medical devices
The bottom line is that the product is dangerous or inadequate in some fashion. The consumer used it as intended, but an injury resulted.
Florida allows three different theories for plaintiffs to pursue in a product liability case:
The product was designed improperly and cannot fit the purpose for which it was intended and is therefore dangerous.
Perhaps the product was designed correctly, but the defects occurred during manufacturing.
Failure to Warn
Virtually every product contains a warning label. Some of these warnings may appear obvious to the ordinary consumer. For instance, no one would drink bleach. However, manufacturers have a duty to instruct users on the correct, safe use of their products. The standard is that a reasonable person can understand how to use the product safely. In addition, any warnings should include wording regarding the dangers of misusing the product, such as “risk of serious injury or death.”
Failure to warn involves a marketing defect. Even if adequately designed and manufactured, a product must warn consumers about potential dangers. The plaintiff must show that there were inherent risks to the product and the manufacturer failed to warn consumers.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) governs product warnings and product safety signage and labeling. As per ANSI, a product warning label must include the following:
- Information about existing risks and severity
- Information about possible adverse effects
- Information about risk avoidance when using the product
Theories of Product Liability in Florida
A negligence claim arises when one of the parties involved in the product’s development, manufacturing, or sale was negligent.
With strict liability, negligence does not need to be established. Instead, it is sufficient to prove that the injuries resulted from a defective product. This defect existed from the time the item left the manufacturer.
As with negligence, the plaintiff must show that the product was either defective or unreasonably dangerous. Under strict liability, the defendant is only responsible for injuries when the product is used as intended.
Breach of Warranty
It is possible to file a breach of warranty lawsuit when the plaintiff used the product for its intended purpose. All products must meet a state Uniform Commercial Code standard. Moreover, all products put up for sale have either express or implied warranties. The former concerns a specific list of promises a manufacturer uses to back the product. For instance, the manufacturer may promise to repair or replace defective items. The latter warranty refers to the implicit promise that the product is safe when used as intended.
Determining Liability in a Defective Product Lawsuit
In a defective product lawsuit, liability may extend to the designer, the manufacturer or parts manufacturer, and the seller. The designer is responsible if the product’s design is defective or dangerous. The manufacturer may prove liable if the product was not tested adequately or inspected properly. Any manufacturing or quality control error places the onus on the manufacturer. The simple failure to discover and fix a dangerous issue with the product can also make the manufacturer liable.
Products made with low-quality materials are often inherently defective. When products are deemed defective, the manufacturer must either remove them from the market or redesign them. The distributor, seller, or retailer may be held liable if they were aware of the issues with the product but sold it anyway.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a product liability lawsuit is two years from the date the injury occurred. If a person succumbed to their injuries, the personal representative has two years from the death date in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of family members.
Evidence in a Product Liability Case
Evidence in a product liability case depends on the product and its specific defect, and may include the following:
- Blueprints and specifications for the defective item
- Medical records detailing the plaintiff’s injuries
- Law enforcement accident reports
- Product recalls or previous lawsuits
- Photographs or videos
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony
Whenever possible, it is critical to display the defective product. Along with it, preserve any receipts, packaging, user manuals, instructions, brochures, or warning notices. For instance, the plaintiff’s attorney might show that the product did not include warning instructions or that those instructions were insufficient. Another important value of exhibiting the product is proving that the plaintiff did not alter the item. At Kogan & DiSalvo, we gather the evidence necessary to prove the claim and identify all potentially liable entities.
What if the victim misused the product and was injured? They could still have a case, but much depends on the circumstances. If the product was misused in a way the manufacturer should have foreseen, it is possible to receive compensation. However, if the product misuse was extreme and the manufacturer could not have known anyone would use the product this way, they are unlikely to prove liable.
However, consumers cannot file a product liability lawsuit if the injuries occurred when a product was used past its expiration date. That most often applies to drugs or food products containing an expiration date on the package.
A defective product attorneycan fight for compensation, or damages, in a product liability lawsuit which may include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
The amount of compensation depends on the individual case. However, the severity of the injury and its overall effect on the plaintiff’s life are significant considerations regarding damage awards.
Contact a Palm Bay Product Liability Lawyer
If you or someone you know was seriously injured because of a defective product, you need the services of an experienced Palm Bay personal injury attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. Because we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fee unless you receive compensation.