Product Liability Overview
In the United States, millions of people a year are injured by defective products. Virtually every consumer product is capable of causing injury if there is a defect in the design or manufacturing process. From children’s toys to laptop chargers, defective products can cause severe injuries or even death.
Florida product liability law provides legal remedies for those who have sustained an injury from a faulty product. If a consumer product has injured you, you may be able to recover for both economic and non-economic losses that occurred as a direct result of your injuries.
What is a product liability claim?
The product liability claim is a claim brought against the manufacturer or seller of a product because it is faulty in some way and because the fault in the product caused an injury. A claim can be brought by the person who was injured by this product against the manufacturer or seller.
What type of damages can you recover from a product liability claim?
- Medical bills sustained as a result of the injury
- Lost wages related to the injury
- Punitive damages
What are punitive damages in a product liability claim?
Punitive damages are damages intended to punish the seller or manufacturer for their negligence. Florida caps punitive damages at $500,000 or three times the amount of compensation for damages that the injured person receives. However, if the court finds that the defendant acted in with wanton disregard for safety, or had the financial motivation to risk injury to the public, the court can award punitive damages up to $2 million, or four times the compensation awarded.
Has a defective product in Florida injured you or someone you know?
It is essential that you seek immediate medical attention for any injury that involves a product. Keep all records, receipts, and ask for a copy of all medical bills related to your injury. Some people delay treatment, hoping the injury will heal on its own. Not only does this pose a risk of worsening the injury, but it can make it harder to prove that a specific product caused the injury. Most importantly in can lessen the monetary value of your case.
If you, or someone you know, has been injured by a faulty product, consult with our Florida product liability lawyers today to review your potential claim and discuss your options. The Lopez Law Group has experienced attorneys ready and willing to speak with you about any potential claim.
What type of injuries can occur from a defective product?
It would be impossible to list all the potential injuries that defective products can cause. The injuries are as varied as the products themselves, but some types of injuries are more common than others in product liability claims.
Injuries from consumer products can result in significant pain and suffering, permanent disability, a loss of quality of life, and monstrous medical bills that exceed the injured party’s ability to pay. Loss of income due to the inability to work, or a spouse or parents’ loss of income as they care for an injured partner or child, can place a devastating financial burden on the injured party.
Some of the most common types of injuries include:
- Burns—even relatively minor burns can be exceedingly painful, and severe burns can cause suffering, disfigurement, and loss of function.
- Broken bones—broken bones can mean six weeks in a cast, or they can be severe enough to require numerous surgeries to fix. Most broken bones will result in some loss of income.
- Lacerations—lacerations, or cuts, can result in disfigurement. Any time the skin is broken, the risk of infection climbs, and debris in the laceration can increase the chances of developing an infection. A laceration may only need a few stitches, or it could require surgical debridement and a drain that allows it to heal.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—A traumatic brain injury is a brain dysfunction caused by an injury from an outside force, such as a blow to the head. A TBI can cause both immediate and delayed symptoms that can be difficult to treat and last for an unspecified amount of time. Symptoms include blurred vision, confusion, difficulty in concentrating, and changes in personality.
- Spinal cord injuries—Injuries to the spinal cord can cause significant impairment that ranges from a temporary loss of strength to total permanent loss of function below the site where the cord is injured. Those with spinal cord injuries often require extensive rehabilitation, assistive devices, and often, surgery to stabilize the spine to prevent further damage.
- Side effects of medication—medication, even when used as directed, can have dangerous side effects. Medications have been known to cause seizures, render users prone to things like cancers, heart attacks, and strokes, or caused numerous other life-threatening events. New research comes out frequently with findings that medications once considered safe are linked to dangerous, or life-altering, side-effects.
These are only a few of the potential injuries that can occur from the use of a defective product. Because the full extent of an injury is not always immediately apparent, anyone who is injured by a consumer product should seek comprehensive medical treatment as soon as possible. Injured consumers should consult an attorney experienced in product liability as quickly as possible to determine if they have a viable claim.
Frequently asked questions
- I did not purchase the product. Can I still file a claim? Many people think they cannot file a product liability claim because they were gifted the product, bought it second-hand, or were using a borrowed product. Florida law makes it clear that there is no requirement that the injured person be the one who purchased the product. You can file a claim for the injuries suffered regardless of how you came to be using the product. Under Florida law, anyone who foreseeably could have used the product or come into contact with the product, and sustains an injury, can file a claim.
- Which entity is held liable for the defective product? The manufacturer or seller of a product is generally responsible for any injuries sustained as a result of the defect. For the seller to be found liable, the wholesale or retail store that sold the product must be a business that sells these types of items in its normal scope of business. If you bought the item second-hand, at a garage sale, from a neighbor, or a resell shop, they have no liability for any injury. The original manufacturer is the most likely entity to be held liable for product defects.
- The product had a warning on it, so can I still file a claim? If a product can cause an injury, even when used according to instructions, a warning label does not negate the liability of the manufacturer. The short answer is yes, and you can still file a claim if the danger could have been negated with a better design or manufacturing process. A simple warning of unreasonable danger is not protection from liability.
Product Liability Attorneys in Florida
Product liability laws are complicated, and you need an attorney with extensive experience in Florida product liability law to help you navigate your claim. The Lopez Law Group has attorneys experienced in product liability willing to give you a free consultation to determine the strength of your potential claim.
If you contact the manufacturer or seller before talking to an attorney, you risk damaging your chances of winning a claim. If your claim is clearly the fault of the manufacturer or seller, they may even offer a quick settlement to keep you from hiring an attorney. These types of settlement offers, handled by their insurance carriers, are often far less than you will be awarded if you use a skilled attorney and file a claim.
What are the different types of defects a product can have?
The term “product” is a broad description of any consumer item, and the defects they can have come in uncountable varieties. Defects fall into three broad areas:
- A defect in the design of the product which made the product unsafe and should have been discovered and remedied during the design process.
- A defect that occurred during the manufacturing process when the product was being assembled.
- There could also be a claim for a defect in the way a product was advertised or marketed. If there is improper labeling, or if the instructions were misleading and contained inadequate safety warnings, this can be held against a product manufacturer or seller.
If I altered the product and sustained an injury, do I have a claim?
The ramification of an altered product is a common question in product liability cases. Altering a product may impact your ability to make a claim. If the consumer substantially altered the product and it is now different than the original product, that may hurt a potential claim you have. If you removed necessary safety features, clearly marked as such, that can also affect your ability to file a claim. The manufacturer or seller will most certainly raise the alterations as a defense.
To recover damages caused by manufacturing defects in a product, you must be able to prove that the product was defective at the time it left the control of the defendant. In the case of the manufacturer, it would have had to be defective at the time it was sold to a wholesaler, retailer, and then consumer.
Design defects are considered defective at all times, given that fundamental design flaws render the product dangerous regardless of possession. However, if the injured party alters the condition of a product, and those changes make the product unsafe, it is not the responsibility of the defendant. The only potential exception is if the change made by the injured party was something that should have been reasonably foreseen in the context of the intended use of the product.
Products commonly associated with product liability claims
While it is true that virtually any product can cause an injury that warrants a lawsuit, some types of consumer products are more likely to result in injuries. The most common product liability cases involve:
- Medications (both over the counter and prescription)
- Medical devices
- Motorized vehicles
- Products designed for, and marketed to, children
- Power tools
- Recalled products
Common defenses in product liability claims
A common defense used by manufacturers and sellers is that the consumer was using the product in an unforeseeable manner. Using the product for ways other than its intended use allows defendants to claim that you, the consumer, are responsible for your injuries.
There is also what is known as contributory, or comparative, negligence. The defendant will argue that the plaintiff was negligent in their use of the product, and if it is true, a negligent plaintiff will have a difficult time winning an award for their injuries.
If the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury, the defendant could have the amount of damages they owe reduced, or even eliminated, depending on how negligent the defendant is found.
Contact The Lopez Law Group today!
If you or someone you know used a product and sustained an injury as a result, contact the attorneys at The Lopez Law Group today. Consultations are always free on product liability cases. The attorneys will speak with you regarding any claim you may have and will provide you with an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
If you have suffered an injury caused by a defective consumer product, you may be entitled to a significant award. We understand that money cannot change the pain, suffering, disfigurement, or loss of function you might have experienced. A settlement or award can help meet your financial needs, provide for ongoing care, and help you regain as much of your life as possible. For many who have suffered such injuries, the most important thing is the peace of mind in knowing that the party responsible for their injury is held accountable.
Call us today at 1-727-933-0015 or fill out our online contact form to get started. Our team of experienced attorneys are standing by and ready to assist you in determining if you should move forward with your product liability claim.