Were you recently injured in a product liability accident in Florida? Our experienced Florida product liability lawyers at Shiner Law Group are ready to help fight for your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (855) 462-6878 to speak with an attorney for a 100% free consultation.
You may be entitled to seek compensation for medical bills, loss of income, pain, and suffering, and more. Contact our Florida law offices to discuss the legal options that might be available to you following your product liability accident. The next steps are very important. Let Shiner Law Group help you with your product liability case today.
Were You Injured By A Defective Product in Florida?
Product liability refers to a seller’s or manufacturer’s responsibility for putting a defective product into a customer’s hands. When a product defect leads to an injury, all sellers in the distribution chain are responsible. Generally, the law requires that a product meets a customer’s ordinary expectations. If it comes with an unexpected danger, the product does not meet ordinary expectations. Seeking a Florida product liability attorney may be your next step.
Determining Product Liability
If a defective product has injured you, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler, depending on the nature of the defect. Under the law, the two categories of defects are manufacturing defects and design defects.
These defects occur during assembly and aren’t supposed to be part of the final product. Manufacturing defects are typically only present in a small percentage of manufactured goods. Based on the strict liability theory, a manufacturer is liable for defects created due to faulty construction, no matter how careful they were during assembly.
The plaintiff must prove that the product defect caused the injury and was present when it departed the factory.
Design defects are flaws in a product’s original blueprint leading to unreasonable danger, creating a hazard for customers. This type of defect typically occurs in every product.
To determine whether a design defect exists, ask three questions:
- Was the product design unreasonably dangerous before it was produced?
- Was it plausible that someone anticipated the design was dangerous?
- Could the manufacturer have implemented an economically feasible design better than the one used?
Answering any of these questions positively indicates you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Contact one of our attorneys right away.
Failure to Warn
It is also possible to sue a manufacturer for failing to warn consumers of known risks.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) maintains product safety signs and labels regulations. The current standards endorse easier-to-read signs with more detailed information, illustrating risks with pictures for additional warning.
According to ANSI, a proper warning label should inform the consumer of:
- Existing hazards
- The severity of risk involved in using the product
- The effects of known hazards
- How to avoid known hazards
A product’s warning should be positioned close to the hazard area, keeping the product’s typical setting and life expectancy in mind.
ANSI also assigned three color-coded keywords to standardize warnings to the customer:
- Danger (red): A hazardous event will cause serious injury or death.
- Warning (orange): A potentially hazardous event can lead to serious injury or death.
- Caution (yellow): A potentially hazardous event can lead to moderate or slight injury.
One of these keywords should precede a description of the hazard on a square white background.
To determine whether you have grounds to file a failure-to-warn lawsuit, ask the following questions:
- Was the product used in an intended way?
- How likely was the product to cause harm?
- How severe was the harm?
- How much knowledge did the manufacturer assume the user had?
- Was the warning clear and simple enough to understand?
Types of Liability Lawsuits
If you used a product and suffered an injury or other damages, you may have a defective product claim. Though there is a broad range of product cases to file, these claims typically fall into three possible categories.
You must show that carelessness in the manufacturing or design of the product led to your injuries:
- We show that the defendant had a duty to sell a safe product.
- We show how the defendant breached this duty.
- We prove that the product defect caused your injury
There are several areas in the manufacturing process where negligence can occur, such as:
- Drawing up and reviewing product blueprints
- Maintaining the machines responsible for assembling the product
- Neglecting to inspect or test the product
- Failing to consider potential product uses
- Releasing the product hastily
Generally, we pursue product liability cases under the strict liability theory. Under these claims, the injured party must only prove a defect exists and caused an injury. If there is a defect, the manufacturer may be liable for damages the product caused, even if they exercised considerable caution and oversaw all parts of the assembly process.
For strict liability to apply, you must have purchased the product in the distribution chain; second-hand products are not eligible.
Breach of Warranty
When a company sells a good, there are two warranties you rely on as a buyer of that product: the express and the implied warranties.
- Express Warranty: Any representation the retailer or manufacturer makes about the product’s safety
- Implied Warranty: The implied promise that a manufacturer makes about a product’s safety
When to File a Class Action Lawsuit For Product Laibility
If you can prove an inherent flaw in the way a product was designed or built, you may be able to recover damages for injuries caused by that product.
A class action lawsuit is filed by a representative on behalf of a large group of people with similar claims. These lawsuits are an efficient way to process judicial claims for multiple people while reducing litigation costs. However, initiating a class action suit can be a complicated process. For example, all class action matters require a named party to represent the entire class.
A defective product’s class action is essentially a lawsuit based on a claim that a product harmed multiple people in the same or similar way. For instance, imagine attending a sports event where thousands of attendees drank a particular brand of beer. If a party can prove all attendees who drank that beer suffered effects from ingesting poison, then all of those affected may be considered a class in a lawsuit.
Who is Liable?
Though there are some exceptions, most state product liability laws are similar regarding the potential defendants in a product liability case. Again, contacting a Florida product liability lawyer can help you answer any questions you have specific to the state of Florida.
Generally speaking, we want to consider all parties involved in a product’s distribution chain. Therefore, we cover most of the possibilities below.
At the top of the distribution chain is the manufacturer responsible for making the injury-causing product. This party may be as significant as a multinational conglomerate or as small as an individual working out of a garage.
If the defective piece is part of a larger product, we typically include both the manufacturer of the product and of the bad part itself. So, for example, if your car battery explodes, you should file suit against the car manufacturer and the company who made the battery.
It’s essential to include all other parties involved in the design and marketing of the product, especially if they are separate from the manufacturer. For example, if your claim involves a manufacturing defect, you include the manufacturer’s quality-control engineers. On the other hand, if your claim involves a design defect, your lawsuit would then include design consultants.
Although the retail store where you purchase an injury-causing product likely didn’t manufacture it, the store may still be liable for selling defective products. Remember that you don’t have to pick one defendant over the other; your lawsuit should include any party in the distribution chain.
Keep the following in mind when determining whether or not you can sue the retailer:
- You don’t need to be the buyer. Even if you did not personally buy the defective product that harmed you, you may still be eligible for damage recovery. For example, if you consumed a drink received by a neighbor and became sick from ingesting spoiled ingredients, you can still bring a defective product claim against the retail store where your neighbor bought the drink.
- You don’t need to use the product. Even if you were hurt by a product someone else was using, you may still be able to sue the retailer. For example, if you were injured by a lawnmower blade that flew out from your neighbor’s defective product, you can still name the store as a defendant in a lawsuit.
- You may be able to sue because of used products. Depending on the nature of the defect and product, you may be able to sue the supplier after buying a defective second-hand product.
Wholesaler or Distributor
Between the manufacturer and the retailer are any number of suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, and similar intermediaries. Each party is part of a defective product’s distribution chain, so they are all potentially liable in your lawsuit.
Damages to Recover
There are two primary types of compensatory damages that you can expect in a product liability case:
- Damages paid for economic losses incurred due to injury
- Damages paid for non-economic losses incurred due to injury
The plaintiff receives economic loss damages to compensate them for finances lost as a result of a product malfunction or a defective good. On the other hand, non-economic loss damages are issued to the plaintiff to compensate them for other damages not involving money, such as emotional suffering, physical suffering, and other losses that don’t have a value to quantify.
Economic Loss Damages
Economic loss damages may cover any of the following:
- Medical bills and expenses: After a malfunctioning or faulty product causes you injury, you will need to pay serious medical bills to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, physical therapists, and other parties. Ongoing medical care, such as prescription medications or extended hospital stays, will also involve ongoing expenses.
- Loss of wages: After suffering from a serious injury and incapacitation, you will not be able to complete your usual duties at work. In some cases, you may not even be able to return to work at all. Either situation will naturally lead to a loss of wages. If you own your own business, a loss of wages also translates to a loss of profit. Many people who struggle with a serious injury from a malfunctioning product often seek loss of wages damages.
- Cost of disability: In certain circumstances, a user becomes injured in a way that leads to a lifelong disability. This situation will result in ongoing medical expenses and prolonged loss of wages for the rest of that user’s life. They may not be able to work at all, and compensation should cover this loss too.
- Property loss: Sometimes, injuries are not the biggest issue in the lawsuit. A product malfunction could cost physical damage to your land or property. If a product damages your property, you may be entitled to additional money to repair or replace the property.
Non-Economic Loss Damages
Pain, suffering, and loss of consortium are all considered non-monetary damages or losses. These damages compensate the plaintiff in ways that do not involve money:
- Pain and suffering: The first type of non-economic damage is pain and suffering caused by faulty products. Naturally, it is difficult to evaluate how much money your pain and suffering is worse, but the courts will try. In an effort to do so, attorneys often refer to dollar amounts that other plaintiffs in other cases with similar injuries received, which is why you want a successful lawyer capable of fighting for the money you deserve.
- Loss of consortium: In some cases, personal injuries caused by a defective or malfunctioning product can lead to difficulties between two spouses. In the situation where your injury leads to a negative impact on your relationship with your husband or wife, you may be able to receive additional compensation to cover the impact on your marriage. This type of situation is known as loss of consortium or loss of society; these issues can include loss of affection, loss of emotional support, and problems with sexual relations.
Contact a Qualified Florida Product Liability Attorney Today
Injuries caused by defective products can lead to significant physical, financial, and emotional distress. If a faulty product injured you or someone you know, contact one of our product liability attorneys today to discuss your options for going forward. Our attorneys handle a variety of personal injury cases in the state of Florida. At Shiner Law, we have what it takes to fight for your case.