Product Liability Laws Help Protect You From Injury
Each year thousands of consumers are injured by dangerous products that make their way into the Florida marketplace and across the country. If you were injured by a defective product, you may have a product liability claim that will entitle you to compensation for your injuries and losses.
What is a Defective Product?
A defective product is a product distributed in the marketplace that poses an unreasonable or inherent risk even when used as intended. The defect may arise out of the product’s design, manufacture, or marketing. A defect based on the product’s design includes a danger resulting from a particular feature or function of a product as it was intended to be manufactured. On the other hand, a manufacturing defect is not one of design, but due to an anomaly or unexpected danger resulting from the manufacture or creation of the product. Defects related to marketing are based on some failure or misrepresentation in the product information included with the marketing of the product.
Who is Responsible for Damages Caused by a Defective Product?
Generally, each party that participates in the manufacturing and distribution channel by which the defective product makes its way to the end user is responsible for the damage caused by the defective product. Participants in the manufacturing and distribution channel include component suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, or any other entity generally in the business of selling the product as it makes its way to the end user. Determining the extent and identity of each participant in the manufacturing and distribution channel can be a daunting task made easier with an experienced product liability attorney.
Establishing a Product Liability Claim
After you have identified the type of product defect and the persons responsible for the manufacture and distribution of the defective product, you can initiate a product liability action to recover compensation for damages that resulted from the use of a defective product. Depending upon the facts of your case, your product liability suit will be based on one of several theories of responsibility. The practical effect of this is that the theory under which you assert your claim will dictate what you have to prove and what standard that evidence will be evaluated under. It will also affect the damages available and certain defenses available to the defendants.
Product Defects based on a Breach of Contract Theory. Manufacturers and sellers can be held liable for a product defect where they make a representation about the product as an inducement to the buyer and the product fails to perform as represented by the manufacturer to the detriment or injury of the buyer. Representations and warranties can be express or implied. Express warranties include some expression of a fact or promise made by the seller that is part of the basis for the purchase of the product by the buyer. Expressions can be in the form of a description of the product or a sample product used in connection with the sale. Implied warranties are not based on any express promise, but the assumption a product will be fit for the intended purpose for which the product was sold and intended to be used. With respect to personal injury incurred from a defective product, a seller’s express or implied warranty will extend to any person who may reasonably be expected to use the product. To establish a claim based on a breach of a product warranty or contract you will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that (1) you were in injured by the product, (2) the injury was a result of a particular defect of the product that caused the injury, and (3) the defect existed at the time the product was distributed by the manufacturer.
Product Defects based on a Negligence Theory. Parties that manufacture and sell products must exercise reasonable care in evaluating their products for danger and must warn buyers of any discovered dangers that the product may present to a user’s safety and/or property. To establish a claim based on the negligence of the manufacturer or seller of the product you will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the duty of reasonable care required of the manufacturer or seller was breached. This will include establishing that the manufacturer performed inadequate testing or design work, or knowingly failed to warn against a foreseeable danger of the product. You will also have to establish that the manufacturer or seller’s breach and the related product caused you to suffer damages.
Product Defects based on a Strict Liability Theory. A manufacturer may be held strictly liable for introducing unreasonably dangerous products into the marketplace that suffer from a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect. A manufacturer will face strict liability for its products that are unreasonably dangerous based upon a product defect where the product was used as intended, the user of the product could not have prevented or discovered the danger with the exercise of reasonable diligence and care, and the injury or damage resulted from the defective product. Under a strict liability theory, you need only prove that the product was defective when it left the control of the manufacturer, regardless of the manufacturer’s actions or omissions.
Remedies for Damages Caused by a Defective Product
A successful product liability case will entitle you to damages for the harm or loss you suffered as a result of the defective product. This includes medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, damage to product, loss of use, and the diminished value of the defective product. Other compensation includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, and under some circumstances, loss of consortium. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions are a result of severe recklessness, negligence, or disregard for the safety of others. Damages based on a breach of warranty or contract may be limited depending on applicable exclusions and disclaimers included with the product.
Contact a Florida Product Liability Attorney
Based on the theory under which you assert your product liability claim, The time period in which you must file file your lawsuit is limited. If you do not timely file your claim you may be barred from recovering compensation. The parties responsible for a defective product will often assert defenses, such as the allegation that you assumed the risk of use, or altered or misused the product in a way that contributed to the injury or damage. If you or someone that you know has been injured by a defective product, contact the experienced Florida product liability attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm who will guide you through the complex area of Florida product liability law and pursue those responsible for the manufacture and distribution of unsafe products. Call or contact the office today for a confidential consultation regarding your case.