Florida residents who have been injured by defectively designed or manufactured products may have access to certain legal remedies through product liability laws. If a defective product results in a consumer injury, then every participant in the distribution chain — from the manufacturer whose factory produced that product to the owner of the retail store who sold it — may be held liable, and any consumer or user of the product may be able to recover damages.
Under tort law, product sellers who deliver goods that are “unreasonably dangerous” may be found to be negligent. Four factors must be proven in order for negligence to be determined.
1. The Existence of a Defect
The product must have a defect related either to its design or manufacture. If the product manufacturer is aware of this defect, the product manufacturer has a duty to warn prospective consumers about it. If the product manufacturer is unaware of the defect, then it must be demonstrated that the manufacturer should have been aware of the defect.
This determination can be tricky, though, because many potentially beneficial products may also have a certain amount of risk associated with their use. Take automobile airbags, for example. Airbag deployments cause injuries frequently, yet they also save lives. In this instance, manufacturers are charged with providing consumers with warnings so that consumers can make informed decisions as to whether or not they choose to use the product.
It is not enough for a product to be defective. The product’s defect must also be linked in some substantive way with a physical injury, a monetary loss, or pain and suffering.
If an electrical short circuit in your new hairdryer causes it to spark while you are using it, but you do not suffer burns, then you will probably have a difficult time suing the manufacturer of the gadget for negligence. You may be successful in bringing a suit for breach of implied warranty, but, in most cases, such a suit would not justify its legal costs.
3. Proximate Cause
The product defect must be the primary cause of the injury. That does not necessarily mean it’s the direct cause of the injury.
If an automobile runs a red light and hits another car, the actions of the driver of the first car directly caused the injuries sustained by the driver of the second car. However, if the first driver was unable to stop his or her car because the brakes malfunctioned due to a defective part, the faulty brakes are the proximate cause of the accident.
4. Intended Use
The injury must be sustained while the consumer is using the product the way the manufacturer intended for it to be used. If you injure yourself using an industrial acetylene blowtorch to finish off your crèmes brûlées, for example, you may have a difficult time proving negligence on the manufacturer’s part.
The standard here refers to reasonable use as well as to manufacturers’ specifications. Thus, if you use a crème brûlée torch designed as kitchen equipment to melt cheese, and that crème brûlée torch explodes, you may have adequate grounds for a product liability case even though you weren’t making crèmes brûlées at the time the explosion happened.
Contact Clark Law
Fla. Stat. § 95.11 stipulates that product liability claims that cite negligence must be filed within four years of the original incident that led to the claim. If you do not file a lawsuit within that interval, you will not be able to collect damages even if you have ample justification for your suit. That is why it is so important to arrange a consultation with an attorney who is knowledgeable about product liability law as soon as you can if you have been injured through the use of a defective product. The attorneys at Clark Law can help.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.