Product liability is a specific area of personal injury law that allows consumers to seek financial recovery from manufacturers (or others along the chain of supply) for unreasonable harm caused by the dangerous or defective products. For example, a driver may file a product liability case against an automaker after an accident caused by a defective car part, or a homeowner may file a product liability case against a smoke alarm detector manufacturer for mechanical failure in a fire.
Manufacturers have a legal duty to only put reasonably safe products on the market, provide adequate warnings and instructions, and uphold their warranties. If they fall short of their duties and a consumer sustains an injury as a result, the victim can file a product liability case and seek compensation for her losses.
If a defective or dangerous product hurt you or your loved one, call Montero Law Center in Fort Lauderdale for a free consultation. We can review your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 954-767-6500 today.
Under what types of theories can victims file product liability cases?
You must have adequate grounds or theories on which to file a product liability claim. Florida Statute § 768.81(1)(d) provides: “‘Products liability action’ means a civil action based upon a theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or similar theories for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”
Most product liability cases are based on either the theory of strict liability, negligence, or a hybrid of the two:
Strict liability: Strict liability cases focus on the product itself, not the manufacturer’s actions. They are usually easier to win because the burden of proof is lighter. This legal theory provides that manufacturers of defective products are liable for consumers’ product-related injuries regardless of whether the company did everything possible to prevent the defect. In other words, victims do not need to prove the manufacturer was negligent to hold it liable.
To prove a claim based on strict liability, you must establish the following:
- The product was defective/unreasonably dangerous.
- The defect caused your injury.
- You were using the product in a way the manufacturer intended or could have foreseen.
- You did not alter the product substantially before use.
- You sustained damages from the defective product.
While this type of liability may not seem fair for manufacturers at first glance, remember that manufacturers have a responsibility to research a product, weigh its risks, and invest in quality control to try to ensure consumer safety. Consumers have a right to assume that the products they purchase meet basic safety standards.
Negligence: Product liability negligence claims focus on the manufacturer’s actions more so than the product itself. Under the theory of negligence, a consumer must prove that the manufacturer was negligent in some manner.
You must show:
- The manufacturer owed you a duty of care. (This duty of care might cover buyers, their family members and guests, and foreseeable bystanders.)
- The manufacturer somehow fell below the appropriate standard of care, i.e., breached its duty of care to consumers.
- The manufacturer’s negligence caused your injuries.
- You sustained damages as a result.
Manufacturers can be negligent in various ways, such as failing to test a product’s safety, concealing dangers about a product, or advertising a product for off-label use.
What are some common types of product liability cases?
Most product liability cases involve products that are defective in design (e.g., a table saw without its promised flesh-detection technology), manufacturing (e.g., improperly assembled products) or marketing (e.g., inadequate warnings or instructions).
For over three decades, Montero Law Center has been helping injured victims get the justice and restitution they deserve. Below are some of the most common types of product liability cases we have come across:
- Dangerous medications and medical devices, such as Cipro and hernia mesh
- Defective products, such as toys, cars, and appliances
- Defective parts and components, such as defective airbags or seat belts
- Inadequate warnings, labels, and instructions
- Breaches of warranty and nuisance claims
What types of damages can victims recover with a product liability case?
If you win your product liability case, you can recover most of your losses and expenses associated with your injuries. The monetary awards you receive, or “damages,” fall into two general categories:
- Special damages: Special damages are for all the monetary losses and expenses such as medical bills, transportation expenses, loss of wages, disability, loss of work benefits, hiring in-home help while you are recovering, rehabilitation, and counseling services.
- General damages: General damages are for the intangible losses you suffer as a result of your injury. These include emotional harms, pain and suffering, mental disorders, the way your injuries affect your relationships, loss of self-esteem, phobias, and lost quality of life.
TIP: Have a product liability lawyer assess the value of your claim. There may be many things for which you may be able to recover damages that you are unaware of. You can demand compensation not only for your current losses, but also your future needs, such as future medical treatments and loss of income. A Montero Law Center attorney can analyze your case, tally damages, and estimate a fair value of your case so that you can receive appropriate compensation.
How do I determine if I have a valid product liability claim?
To determine your eligibility to file a product liability claim, call 954-767-6500 and schedule a free case evaluation. One of our product liability attorneys will review the facts of your case and determine if you have a justifiable claim on your hands. We will then explain your legal options and guide you on the next steps to take action.
In the meantime, begin collecting all documents and evidence that pertain to your injury or the defective product, such as medical records, bills, receipts, proof of lost wages, the actual defective product itself, eyewitness contact information, communication you have had with the manufacturer, any recall information, and your account of what transpired. The more records you collect, the better able we will be able to prove your case.
Contact our office in Fort Lauderdale today to get started.