When companies sell a product to the public, consumers have a right to expect that the product will be safe. If that product fails to live up to those expectations and causes harm, the company could be held liable for money damages for injuries caused by the defective product.
A product might be defective if it was designed in such a way that it was unreasonably dangerous, if it was manufactured improperly, or if it was not accompanied by adequate instructions for its use or warnings about hazards. A parts supplier, a manufacturer of the finished product, or even a retailer who sold it may be held liable for injuries caused by a defective product.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries and/or property damage in the state of Florida by a defective product, you may have legal rights. You need a dedicated and knowledgeable Florida defective product lawyer with the experience and resources necessary to fight against the corporations to seek the compensation you are entitled to.
Brooks Law Group will help you to pursue the compensation and justice you deserve for what you’ve suffered due to a potentially defective product. The defective product attorneys at Brooks Law Group have 20-plus years of compassionate experience representing and supporting Floridians in Winter Haven, Tampa, Lakeland, and Auburndale. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is the legal theory by which a manufacturer or retailer of goods can be held liable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce that causes injury or damage.
Liability for faulty products may fall on manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. The law requires that all products be reasonably safe when used as intended. This generally means that there are no hidden defects, and that product’s intended use and method of operation are readily apparent, or instructions for use are provided.
Product liability claims generally arise under state law according to legal theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. There are also statutory rules under the Uniform Commercial Code in each state relating to warranties.
While a negligence claim requires proving that a manufacturer or retailer was careless in the production or sale of the defective product, a strict liability claim merely requires proof that the product sold to the public was defective in some way. A breach of warranty claim is a contract-based action that requires evidence that a manufacturer or retailer broke a promise it made regarding the product.
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Defective manufacturing – When people refer to product liability, they most often think of a defective manufacturing claim. This claim arises when a product contains some flaw that occurred in the making of the product, such that it was not fabricated in the exact way intended by the design. As a result, not every particular unit may be defective. Only one item may be defectively manufactured, or defective manufacturing may extend to an entire production run.
A defective manufacturing claim arises from an injury that occurred because of the manufacturing defect rather than negligent or improper use of a product that happens to be defectively manufactured.
Examples of defective manufacturing claims include a vehicle with an improperly welded frame, a power tool with frayed wiring, or a golf club with insufficient adhesive between the grip and shaft.
Defective design – A defective product liability claim arises when the product is inherently dangerous or deficient by design. Such a product is flawed even when the manufacturing process is correctly performed. Defective design claims extend to an entire product line. Similar to defective manufacturing claims, an injured party must prove that the injury arose as a result of the defective design rather than negligent use of the faulty product.
Examples of defective design claims include a water heater without a pressure relief valve, an automobile transmission that allows a vehicle to slip out of park, or a toy that comes apart in pieces and creates a choking hazard.
Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions – A third kind of product liability claim involves a failure to provide purchasers with instructions about a product’s intended or proper use or warnings about inherent dangers. Failure-to-warn claims usually involve products that are dangerous in some fashion that is not readily obvious to a user.
Examples of failure-to-warn claims include toaster oven instructions that fail to advise users to avoid putting certain food items in the oven that could create a fire hazard, a medication that omits warnings of specific dangerous side effects including those that occur when taken in conjunction with other prescriptions, or a cleaning solvent that fails to instruct users about its toxicity.
How Our Attorney Can Help with Your Product Liability Claim
When a defective product harms you, a dedicated and knowledgeable product liability attorney can help you pursue a product liability claim. A product defect lawyer takes charge of collecting the evidence important to proving your claim, including the defective product itself, medical records, bills and invoices, and any communications between yourself and the product’s manufacturer or retailer.
An experienced Florida defective product lawyer also knows how to determine if the defect was caused by design, manufacturing, or the failure to provide adequate instructions and warnings. The attorney can calculate the full extent of your losses and build a strong case for compensation.
A skilled product liability attorney can then negotiate a fair and full settlement of your claims with the responsible manufacturers and retailers. If settlement is not possible, a Florida defective product attorney can develop a persuasive case and present that case to a judge or jury to seek a favorable judgment or verdict.
Types of Compensation Available in a Product Liability Claim
If you are injured because of a defective product, you may be entitled to economic damages and non-economic damages.
Examples of economic damages include:
Medical expenses – These are costs incurred to treat injuries caused by a defective product and may consist of hospital stays, doctor’s visits, surgery, medication, physical therapy, and more.
Lost wages – If you missed time from work, you may be entitled to compensation for the wages and income you lost. If your injury prevents you from returning to your old job or at your prior pay level, you may be able to collect the difference in pay from your pre-injury income.
Repair or replacement of damaged property – In addition to the replacement of the defective product, assuming that’s appropriate, you may also be entitled to repair or replacement of other products or property damaged or destroyed by the defective product.
Additional out-of-pocket costs – A defective product may have caused you to suffer other expenses. If a defective product causes a fire in your home that requires you to move out temporarily, for example, you may be entitled to claim your temporary housing expenses.
Wrongful death damages – If a defective product killed your close relative, you may be entitled to recover wrongful death damages that cover the family member’s lost income and benefits to the family, funeral expenses, and other services that person provided to the household.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
Pain and suffering for physical and emotional distress caused by injuries or damage.
Loss of quality of life which compensates for the effects that injuries have on your ability to participate in daily activities or other activities you previously enjoyed.
Loss of consortium which compensates your spouse and family for the loss of your companionship, society, and service to the family caused by any injuries you’ve suffered.
In rare cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Such damages are limited to cases where a product manufacturer or retailer knew that the harm you suffered was highly likely and acted in an unreasonable manner motivated by financial gain. Florida law generally limits punitive damages to the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, although a court can award the greater or four times compensatory damages or $2 million in some extreme circumstances.
Time Limit for Filing a Defective Product Claim in Florida
Florida law imposes a time limit on filing a lawsuit for personal injuries and property damage caused by a defective product. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
If your claim involves personal injury or damage or destruction of property, you have four years from the date of injury or damage to file a lawsuit. If your claim involves the death of a loved one, you have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The statute of limitations may be paused, or “tolled,” under certain circumstances. Under the discovery rule, for example, the clock does not begin to run until the claimant knows or should know through reasonable investigation about the facts giving rise to the claim. The discovery rule often arises in product liability claims relating to defective medications or medical devices. It may not be initially clear that medication or device caused an injury.
Florida law also tolls the statute of limitations for minors, extending the statute of limitation to up to seven years from the date of injury in certain circumstances.
However, even if the statute of limitations is put on hold, Florida law imposes a hard cap on the time to file a product liability or lawsuit, regardless of when an injury is discovered. This cap is known as the statute of repose. For product liability claims, 12 years from the date of delivery of the product to its first user is the outside deadline.
Steps in a Product Liability Lawsuit
If you believe you may have a product liability claim, specific steps are necessary to protect your legal rights and interests.
An investigation is the first step. To have a viable product liability lawsuit, you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury or damage caused by a defective product. If you cannot establish that the product was defective in some way and was the cause of your losses, there is no product liability claim.
Once you have established the basis of your claim, the next step is collecting evidence relevant to prove the defective nature of the product and the economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered. That’s where an experienced, resourceful Florida product defect lawyer takes charge. With that evidence in hand, your attorney can begin contacting the responsible parties – manufacturers, distributors, and retailers – and work to negotiate a settlement.
In many cases, it is possible to reach a fair settlement at the negotiating table. However, if the manufacturers or retailers deny liability or raise defenses to your claim, or if you are unable to agree on a compensation amount, it may be necessary to take them to court.
What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed by a Dangerous or Defective Product
If a dangerous or defective product harms you, the evidence-collection process should begin immediately. This starts with the defective products themselves, which may be the most crucial piece of evidence in your case. You should immediately cease using the product and take steps to preserve its condition.
You should also find and retain records from the purchase. Collect your medical records, doctor’s and hospital bills, and invoices for repairs and replacement of damaged property. If you have correspondence with the manufacturer or retailer of the product, you should preserve that as well. Remember that you are not required to speak with the manufacturer or its insurers or lawyers. That’s your attorney’s job.
You should contact a knowledgeable product liability attorney to help you pursue your claim. Product liability claims are often complicated and fact-intensive and require skilled advocacy and often expert testimony. You are far more likely to be successful in pursuing your claim if you have a dedicated product liability attorney representing you.
Contact Our Florida Defective Product Attorneys Now
If you have has been injured by defective products, you need a savvy Florida defective product lawyer who can guide you through the process of pursuing compensation for your losses. Don’t wait another day to talk to an attorney who will fight to pursue the recovery you deserve.
Contact Brooks Law Group today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal rights and options and how we can help you seek compensation and justice.
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