Sometimes it seems like product recalls are in the news every day, which has made it easy to tune them out. It is important, however, to consider the reality behind these recalls - these are products that are dangerous and likely to cause serious injuries and even death to consumers. Fortunately, consumers can hold manufacturers and others responsible for the harm they have caused and get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, a personal injury lawyer can help you assert your rights.
What Is a Defective or Dangerous Product?
In the context of product liability law, the term “defective” does not necessarily mean broken. Instead, a defective product is one that is unreasonably dangerous to consumers when it is used as intended.
Similarly, some products - like a firearm or a lighter- are inherently dangerous. Liability can arise, however, when the product presents an unreasonable risk of harm even when being used properly.
To illustrate the concept of a dangerous or defective product, here are some examples:
- A toy designed for toddlers that has pieces that can easily become choking hazards
- A medication that can result in severe kidney damage even when used as directed
- An airbag that spontaneously deploys even when there hasn’t been an accident
- A smartphone battery that is prone to overheating and bursting into flames
If you have been injured by a product, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you may have a claim.
Three Types of Product Defects
There are three types of product defects that can trigger a product liability claim:
- Design defects. A design defect is when the product’s design renders it inherently unsafe. For example, a toy that is designed for toddlers with small parts that can be easily removed under normal play.
- Manufacturing defects. The product is safe as designed, but there are problems that arise in the manufacturing process that cause the product to become unsafe. For example, a brand of sunscreen is dangerous for use by consumers because of hazardous impurities that were introduced in the manufacturing process.
- Marketing defects. These include things like inadequate instructions or insufficient warnings about known hazards. A marketing defect could include failure to instruct consumers how to properly set the guard on an electrical saw.
If you were injured by a product that was defective in any one of these ways, you may have a product liability claim. That said, it is possible for a product to be defective in multiple ways. A personal injury lawyer with experience in handling product liability claims will be able to identify how the product that injured you was defective.
Three Different Approaches to Liability
In most states, product liability claims are tried under a strict liability standard. This means that if you can prove that the product was defective, the responsible party is liable as a matter of law. You do not need to prove that they were negligent in any way.
Under Florida law, there are three ways to prove a product liability claim:
- Strict liability. As discussed above, you can hold a product manufacturer liable if you can prove that the product was defective. In many ways, this is considered to be the “easiest” way to prove liability because you can avoid discussion of the manufacturer’s quality control protocols. That said, proving that a product is unreasonably dangerous when used as intended by consumers is not as straightforward as you might think.
- Negligence. You can also prevail in a product liability case in the state of Florida if you can prove that the manufacturer was negligent in some way. This means that they failed to take due care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm.
- Breach of warranty. This theory of liability is typically used to hold retailers accountable for defective products. This approach involves arguing that the retailer breached either an implied or an express warranty that the product was safe for use by consumers.
Most product liability cases are brought under a strict liability theory. However, there may be instances where you need to pursue a negligence theory or take more than one approach. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will know which theory or theories make the most sense in your case and how to develop an effective strategy for pursuing your claim.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Your Injuries?
Determining who should be held liable is an important step in pursuing your claim. Pursuing the wrong party could result in delays and in some situations, jeopardize your claim. In some cases, there may be multiple parties who share responsibility for the defective product. Whether it is one entity or multiple parties, you may have to pursue your claim against at least one of the following:
- The company that designed the product
- The company that manufactured the product
- The distributor
- The retailer
A personal injury lawyer can make sure you pursue the right party so that you can get the compensation you deserve.
You Need to Take Immediate Action
The statute of limitations in product liability cases is two years from the date your injury occurred. This means that you must file a lawsuit within two years of that date or you will lose all of your rights. This may seem like a lot of time, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to prove your case.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer at Powell, Powell & Powell Today if You Have Been Injured by a Defective Product
The attorneys at Powell, Powell, & Powell have been helping injured Floridians get the compensation they need since 1951. We understand the challenges you are facing and we know what it takes to get results. To discuss your case and how we can help, call us today at 850-682-2757 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.