Most product injury cases surround improperly designed or manufactured defective devices. But manufacturing is now a more modular process in which components are produced in other locations, and then shipped to a facility for final assembly. In other cases, aftermarket components are manufactured to replace items that wear out – like parts in vehicles, appliances, heavy machinery and computers. Products that are recalled because of a defective part are often restored with a replacement module at a company service center or licensed repair outlet. So how does defective product law apply to these examples? Very similarly.
Though there are no federal product liability laws (even though there are federal consumer protection agencies to warn us of defective products) liability claims for products that are the result of defective assembly are subject to the civil laws of individual states. In Florida, they are filed under allegations of negligence (either in how they were designed or manufactured), strict liability or breach of warranty. Florida’s warranty rules are modeled after the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which is the legally accepted blueprint that governs the standards that affect product liability.
Who is liable for injuries when a product is not assembled properly?
In the UCC (which was revised in 2002 to address several issues, including defective assembly), parties liable for these products include the “named” manufacturer of the product or:
- A contracted or subcontracted company that manufactured the defective part;
- Any party that assembles or installs the product;
- The product wholesaler; or
- The retail store that sold the product to the consumer.
A few scenarios that would govern an improperly assembled product liability claim against the above defendant(s) would include:
- A contracted battery supplier for a computer manufacturer could be held liable if a battery in one of the computer company’s laptops caught fire and seriously injured the victim or burned up part of the victim’s home.
- Another example has been in the news for several months: The third-party manufacturer of millions of defective airbags that have been recalled by more than a dozen auto manufacturers. A number of people in the U.S. have been injured, and a few deaths have occurred due to improper deployments.
- Wholesalers and retailers are the final steps in the supply chain. If they do not use their communication channels to warn customers of defective components in the products they sell or make timely arrangements to have the defective devices repaired, they too could be held liable for damages as a result of injuries to their customers.
- Retailers that repair a manufacturer’s products, as well as licensed retailers or dealers, are also liable for damages if they improperly repair manufactured products or do not properly provide warranty repair services or product recall fixes and the product owner/user is injured.
- Manufacturers can be held directly responsible for mistakes in the assembly of component pieces into finished products if their employees improperly install the part into the finished product.
What damages are available to injured parties?
Those injured by a defective product can seek compensation for:
- All medical bills associated with the injury;
- Loss of income for however long the victim cannot work;
- Pain and suffering (including emotional suffering and disfigurement);
- Additional damages if the injuries cause a wrongful death; and
- Possible punitive damage (though injured plaintiffs don’t normally request those, they are mostly awarded if the defendant was willfully negligent).
Product liability claims and cases are tedious and complex, often requiring experienced investigations and testimony of product experts. And there are several defenses that defendants might successfully use to avoid liability. Contact Montero Law’s experienced improper assembly defective product attorneys for a free consultation at 954-767-6500 or click here to fill out our case evaluation form.