Fireworks explode and knives cut; in other words, these products come with inherent risks. As long as they’re correctly labeled, you generally understand those risks before you buy. But what about your laundry detergent, TV, or bedframe? Legally speaking, you shouldn’t have to worry about these items causing you harm. But according to the National Safety Council, over 13 million people sustained emergency room injuries in 2019 as a result of ordinary products that became dangerous. This is where product liability claims come into play.
Product liability means that you can hold a manufacturer or seller responsible for your injuries and sue under certain circumstances. The law requires that any product, whether a mattress, cleaning spray, or prescription drug, should meet your ordinary expectations when used as intended. But if the product has an unexpected defect and harms you, then product liability rules make it easier for you to recover damages. If you’ve suffered an injury from a faulty product, we hope this article helps determine if you have a case.
How Florida Product Liability Claims Work
Product liability claims are based on the laws in your state. In Florida, manufacturers can be held responsible and sued under two theories:
- Negligence: Negligence means the manufacturer caused the problem or did something intentionally careless that affected your safety.
- Strict liability: Strict liability means even if the manufacturer didn’t cause the problem directly, you only need to prove that the problem exists.
For strict liability, Florida law requires proof of two categories:
- The product is defective
- The defect directly caused your injuries.
Since you don’t need to prove the manufacturer was acting carelessly, strict liability cases are simpler to prove in court.
Types of Product Defects
There are several types of product defects that you can show in court:
- Design defects: These are present in a product from the beginning and involve something in the design that makes the product unsafe.
- Manufacturing defects: These issues can occur in the process of making or assembling the product.
- Marketing defects: These product flaws can include incorrect labels, insufficient instructions, or inadequate safety warnings.
What Makes for a Strong Vs. Weak Liability Case?
Not all product liability cases are created equal. Here are some examples of strong cases:
- Design defect: You buy a new tea kettle, but the spout’s design causes hot water to spray across the room and burn your arm.
- Manufacturing defect: Your new tea kettle arrives with a hairline fracture that causes it to explode and hurt you.
- Marketing defect: Your new car tires have a maximum speed rating of 85 mph, but that fact isn’t listed on the tires or the manual. As a result, your tire explodes at 90 mph, and you get into a car accident.
- Packaging defect: Your chemical cleaner’s label warns that it contains toxic ingredients. But the nozzle is stuck, causing the cleaner to spray into your eyes when you try to open it.
Unlike the claims above, you may not be able to win some of the weaker cases below:
- You drop your new cleaver on your foot and cut your toe. Then you try to claim the handle design is defective.
- Your new tea kettle has a fancy design that disguises the steam valve, and you burn your hand. But there was a red warning sticker pointing this out when you opened the package.
- You used your new tea kettle to heat the water in an outdoor pool, and it caused the water to burn you.
In product liability cases, the “burden of proof” usually falls on you as the consumer and the attorneys who are fighting for you. Manufacturers will often try to use one of these defenses to disprove your claim:
- You have not sufficiently identified the supplier of the product that caused the injury.
- You substantially altered the product after it left the manufacturer’s control, which means you’re responsible for the injury.
- You misused the product in a manner that the manufacturer could not foresee when designing and producing the item.
The bottom line: If your injury attorney can show evidence that the product had a defect that caused your injury, and you were using the product in a reasonable, intended manner–then you likely have a case on your hands.
In the past, you could only file a lawsuit if you directly purchased the product in question. However, in most states today, you can now sue a manufacturer whose product harmed you whether you bought it or not. For example, if you borrow a laptop from a friend and the battery explodes due to a design defect, you might still have a case. And not only can you hold the manufacturer liable, but you may also be able to sue the other parties in the chain of distribution, including:
- The manufacturer of the product’s parts
- The party that assembles or installs the product
- The wholesaler
- The retail store that sold the product
Methods to Prove Product Liability
If a defective or dangerous product injures you, your priority is to call an experienced product liability attorney after getting medical treatment. When you call experts like KL, you’ll understand how to preserve the evidence we can investigate properly. We know how to connect the product defect with the parties responsible for making or supplying it. We also have access to engineers, safety experts, and medical professionals whose assistance and testimonies are critical to a successful case.
Remember, we don’t need to prove a manufacturer was negligent in strict liability cases. We only need to help you establish the product was defective to increase your chances of winning the case.
How Compensation Is Calculated in a Product Liability Case
Similar to other personal injury claims, you can receive product liability compensation in the form of the following two categories:
- Economic damages: These are your current and future medical bills, lost wages, and other direct expenses that result from your injury.
- Non-economic or human damages: These refer to intangible costs associated with your trauma, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment, for example.
KL Product Liability Case Study: Faulty Firearms
In Florida, firearms product liability cases are difficult to prove because guns are dangerous regardless of how you use them. However, if you sustain injuries due to an improper or unsafe design, you may still be able to sue.
In a case that we’re currently litigating, one of our clients became severely injured after his gun fired upon hitting the ground. Most gun manufacturers are aware of this “drop fire” threat and produce weapons to prevent such an occurrence. But our client purchased his gun from the secondary market, which means the company modified the original design to change the gun’s look and function. As a result, it became defective upon hitting the ground and left metal in our client’s leg that doctors can’t safely remove.
In this case, we believe our client is a victim of a design defect, and we’re hiring experts nationwide to prove it. In the end, we hope to demonstrate that the secondary provider failed in its duty to protect.
What If You’re Not Sure if You Have a Case?
If you’ve been injured due to a faulty product, contact KL Injury Attorneys immediately. A successful case will often require expert witnesses, medical evidence, and a thorough understanding of negligence law, and we’ll need to get started right away. At KL Injury Attorneys, we know your time is valuable, and we want to make your case as easy as possible by doing the heavy lifting for you. It only takes a few minutes to schedule a meeting online to determine if you have an eligible claim.