Whether you have bought a new car, medications, or toys for your little ones, you reasonably expect these products to satisfy a certain need and be safe at least. You may be cautious, but you don’t expect them to hurt you. However, injuries due to defective products happen all of the time. Product designers, manufacturers, and distributors rarely produce or sell a defective product. This is because they are being held accountable by a number of laws they have to comply with. They want to gain a good reputation and make money, but mistakes do happen.
When their mistakes lead to a defective product that you use and it causes you personal injuries, you may be entitled to damages recovery for your harms and losses, according to the Florida liability laws. Depending on your particular case, you may claim compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills related to the injuries, medical devices bills, lost income, scarring, temporary or permanent disability, and others.
Product Liability Laws
In the Sunshine State, consumers are protected from defective products by the Florida product liability laws. According to this set of rules, product manufacturers, designers, and distributors are accountable for the product they manufacture, design, or distribute. Most of them abide by the laws, but their negligence or a wrongful act may lead to defective products. If that product has such defects that cause injuries to an ordinary user who uses the product in its intended way, then they are liable for the harms and losses and have to pay for them.
They may be held legally responsible due to design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects.
Design defect claims are based on the allegation that the product is defective and unreasonably dangerous by design. The manufacturer didn’t make an error while producing it, but they intended to build it that way. They might not have the intention to make it dangerous, but it happens to be. Examples of defective products are toys made of materials that pose risks to health or cars with a heavy top that poses risks of rollover car accidents.
According to the Florida product liability laws, a product has an unreasonably dangerous design if it was made in a way that its ordinary use leads to certain risks and dangers. It has to be designed and produced that way and reach the final user without being substantially changed. Florida Courts decide on whether a product is unreasonably defective or not using the consumer expectancy test. Every product has its intended use and is expected to perform in a certain way. If it fails to perform as a consumer would expect, then the product is deemed unreasonably dangerous.
In the example of the heavy-top car, the consumer has bought the car thinking that once they drive it according to the traffic safety rules, they’ll arrive at the destination safely. However, the defect in the design may cause a roll-over even while driving according to the rules. In that case, the driver can claim damages compensation due to product liability.
It is important to note that it is not necessary for you to have used the defective product that has hurt you. Bystanders have an equal right to claim compensation as the product users as long as they can prove that their injuries have been sustained due to the product design defects.
You should pursue damages compensation due to manufacturing defects when the product got defective during the manufacturing process. It has been designed to be safe, but something went wrong during production, and it left the product with dangerous defects that were not intended by the design. A manufacturing defect means that the product hasn’t been produced in line with its intended design, which makes it not to perform as the original design would allow. If such a product performance causes you personal injuries, you’ll be entitled to damages recovery from the manufacturer.
An example of a manufacturing defect could be a well-designed car that got an axle a bit shorter than designed, which could lead to car accidents. Or, a food product for people with diabetes that, contrary to the recipe, got some sugar sneaked in and caused health issues to consumers.
Manufacturing defects are way more common than design defects; hence there are more claims for them compared to those related to the product design.
Marketing defects can be either warning or label defects. When a product is inherently dangerous, it has to feature a warning to let the consumers know about the dangers it poses. Fireworks, for example, are inherently dangerous. Even when they reach consumers well-manufactured according to the designs, they are still dangerous.
Medications are not inherently dangerous, but if they have any side effects that are not disclosed on the product label, the pharmaceutical company will be held liable for not forewarning consumers about it. Moreover, they have to tell it in an easily understandable way. Using wording that confuses consumers is considered the same as not issuing it at all.
Bear in mind that any product that may cause injuries requires the manufacturer to put a warning label. Enter the McDonald’s hot cup case, when a consumer sued the restaurant chain for not warning her that the coffee cup is hot. As a result, she spilled the coffee all over herself, causing severe burns. She claimed damages recovery and got it because McDonald’s failed to warn her about the cup, which could have prevented the accident.
How to Prove Product Liability and Get Compensated for Your Personal Injuries
If you want to prove that your injuries have been caused by a product and you should be compensated by the liable person for your harms and losses, the wisest thing to do is talk to an experienced Florida product liability attorney. They will investigate your case and advise you on how to prove product liability and recover damages.
Every plaintiff in Florida must prove the following:
- A defect or a failure to warn. You must prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous by design, was made dangerous in the manufacturing process, or that you were not forewarned about the dangers.
- Personal injuries. Next, you must have suffered personal injuries due to the product. It may be bodily harm, lost income, pain and suffering, and others.
- A proximate cause. You have to prove that you suffered the injuries due to the product. You’ll get compensated only if you prove the connection between your harms and losses and the defective product.
- You used the product as intended. The product liability laws apply only if you used the product for its purpose.
Product Liability Claims Limitations
There are certain limitations to take into regard when considering to claim damages compensation due to a dangerous product. Florida product liability laws provide two limitations for plaintiffs:
Time limits. From the time of the accident, you have four years to file a product liability lawsuit. The time starts running from the moment you’ve learned or should have learned about the injuries and the causes of the injuries. In the case of medications with undisclosed side effects, the clock starts ticking from the moment you’ve discovered the side effects and what causes them. Even if you’ve had some health condition caused by the medications for some time, the four-years deadline starts from the moment of discovery. In the case of wrongful death, the deadline is only two years.
Another important time limitation is the so-called statute of repose, according to which you can claim damages recovery only for injuries caused by a product during its expected life. If you’ve got injured by a product after three years of use, but it has an expected life of one year at the most, your lawsuit will be rejected.
Limits on damages. The amount of damages, you’ll get depends on how much you have contributed to being injured by the dangerous product. The liability is shared between you and the manufacturer or distributor. If your personal injuries are worth $50,000 and the court estimate that your contribution to the accident is 30 %, then the damages paid to you will be reduced by 30% and you’ll get $35,000.
Another damages limitation is the inability to pursue damages compensation when you have only economic losses, such as lost income. You need to have suffered other type of personal injury to be entitled to financial recovery for your damages.
How a Florida Product Liability Attorney Can Help
A Florida product liability attorney can quickly help you determine whether you are entitled to damages compensation or not. They will help you examine all the circumstances that may impact the outcome of your case and advise you on the next steps.
You are likely to go into battle with a corporation and that requires having knowledge and experience under the belt. Corporations love the do-it-yourselfers because they are easy to deal with. With the right Florida personal injury lawyer by your side, it won’t be easy for them.