Florida law tries to protect us from dangerous products, but some of these products manage to slip through the regulations and get out on the market. When a hazardous item hurts someone, the company that made or sold it can be responsible to the injured person for the harm the product caused. Situations like these create the groundwork for product liability lawsuits.
Types of Product Liability
A product can hurt someone because of:
Defective design. One of the largest automotive recalls in United States history has been of airbags. The flawed design of some airbags causes them to explode instead of inflating safely. Heat and humidity contribute to this malfunction. People whom these defectively designed airbags injure or kill have a products liability claim against the maker of the bags.
Defective manufacture. Let’s say that the object had a safe design, but the manufacturer cut corners by using inferior material or eliminating safety features when making the product. For example, the maker of infant strollers used cheap parts instead of the braking mechanism the design team specified. As a result, the brakes did not work. Strollers rolled away, and children suffered injuries. The parents can sue for defective manufacture or improper assembly.
Defective construction. Although one might not think of it this way, a building is a product. If the general contractor did not follow the architectural drawings when building the balconies at a new apartment complex and people suffered harm when balconies collapsed, the injured people can file products liability lawsuits for defective construction.
Inadequate warnings. The maker of a product should warn potential users of the foreseeable risks associated with the item. For example, a hammock should post a maximum total weight notification so that users will know how many people the hammock can hold without collapsing. If the hammock can only hold up to 150 pounds, but there is no warning about this limitation, the maker can be responsible if someone over 150 pounds gets hurt when using the product.
Insufficient instructions. A product manufacturer should include enough information with the item so that a person can use the product safely. Let’s say that an infant car seat came with instructions that merely told the user to install the device in the back seat of the car but did not explain how to do so correctly to secure the child and the car seat.
The seat was then not secured properly. If the child sustains injuries because of the inadequate instructions, the parent can sue the car seat maker.
Negligent marketing. Some companies succumb to the temptation to exaggerate what their products can do. When this behavior causes harm to people, the manufacturer can be liable for negligent marketing.
For example, a pharmaceutical company claims that its new heart medication is better than the competitors on the market because the new drug does not cause internal bleeding. A person who relies on this claim takes the new drug, and experiences internal bleeding can file a products liability case for the negligent marketing.
What We Have to Prove
Manufacturers are not responsible every time that someone gets injured using one of their products. Sometimes people get hurt due to no fault by the product maker. To hold the manufacturer liable, we must show all four of these factors:
- The defendant is responsible for the defective product being in the marketplace. We have to verify that the defendant is the party who made or sold the item. In a lawsuit involving faulty design, the company that designed the product can be liable.
- The defect is what caused your harm. For example, the defective brakes on the baby strollers caused the brakes to fail, which lead to roll-away strollers that injured children.
- You were using the product for its intended use. The manufacturer must make a product that is safe when used as directed. For example, a dining table chair that falls apart when an adult of average weight sits on it is defective.
- No one modified the product after it left the control of the manufacturer. If someone modifies the product after sale, the manufacturer is no longer responsible, because the product is in a different condition than when it left the maker.
There is an exception to the rule about using the product as intended if its defect causes harm when put to a foreseeable purpose. For example, it is foreseeable that a person might stand on a chair to reach something on a high shelf. If the chair breaks when used this way, it would also fail under ordinary use, and the maker is liable.
Your Lawyer Will Fight Corporations and Manufactures by Your Side
It can feel daunting to be involved in a products liability case because you are up against a manufacturer or another sizeable company. These corporations can have dozens of lawyers ready to defend the companies from lawsuits.
You do not have to go it alone or give up because you feel overwhelmed. Even if you would feel comfortable handling a minor dispute for yourself in small claims court, it is a good idea to work with a product liability lawyer for your case.
These cases often involve the use of expert witnesses to address technical subjects like engineering or medical issues. The defense lawyers for the manufacturer will have experience working with expert witnesses, which can have you at a disadvantage if you do not have a personal injury lawyer on your side.
How to Get Help for Your Products Liability Case
We help injured people, even if that means taking on a huge corporation. At the Montero Law Center, we fight for the underdogs. If you call us today at 954-767-6500, we can set up a time to meet with you, talk about your case, and answer your questions. There is no charge for this service. We do not charge legal fees until you win compensation.