Consumers use many different types of products on a daily basis, from cars to hairdryers and lawnmowers to dishwashers. Manufacturers of these products owe a responsibility to the people who use them to ensure the products they make are safe for use. If a product does not live up to safety standards and causes harm or injury, you may be able to recover for damages. However, proving a manufacturer is liable for damages caused by a product can be difficult. That’s why you need an experienced Pensacola personal injury law firm like Staples, Ellis + Associates on your side. Our experienced attorneys understand product liability law and will do everything in their power to recover for you.
What is Product Liability?
Every product sold in Florida must be free from defects that could cause harm to consumers. If a product contains a defect that causes an injury, then the manufacturer of that product may be liable for damages. There are three types of product defects recognized under Florida law: design defects, manufacturing defects, and warning or labeling defects.
Design Defects: Design defects are problems with a product’s design that make it unsafe to use as intended. Design defects result from the failure to identify issues with a product in testing or from a deliberate choice in manufacturing that is unsafe. An example of a design defect is a child’s car seat that cannot be properly secured because it does not include sufficient latch points.
Manufacturing Defects: A manufacturing defect is a problem that occurs in the manufacturing process that makes a product unsafe. Manufacturing defects arise in products that are soundly designed, but flaws are introduced in the manufacturing process. Some examples of manufacturing defects include using incorrect materials in the finished product or incorrectly wiring the product.
Warning and Labeling Defects: Certain products, like power tools, are inherently dangerous. While the products are dangerous, the danger is necessary for the use of the product. A manufacturer must warn consumers of any inherent risks in the use of a product. For example, circular saws are inherently dangerous because they contain sharp blades. Most circular saws sold in the United States include warnings indicating the dangers of using the saws. A warning or labeling defect may also arise when a product is manufactured for one purpose but marketed or sold for another purpose. In each case, the manufacturer must provide warnings of inherent dangers in expected uses.
How to Prove a Manufacturer is Liable for a Defective Product?
Florida consumers are protected in product liability cases by a concept called strict liability. Under the legal concept of strict liability, if a defective product caused a consumer’s injury, the manufacturer (or seller in some cases) is liable for the injury. Proving strict liability for a defective product requires showing: 1) the product has an unreasonably dangerous defect; 2) when used in the manner intended, the product caused an injury; and 3) the product has not been materially changed since manufacture.
How Long do I have to Bring a Products Liability Action?
Generally, you have four years to file a product liability action. However, the four-year period does not start until the date the defect is discovered. Meaning if you purchased a product five years ago but did not discover a defect until last year, you still have three years to file a product liability action.
There are some limitations to this rule. If the product involved is intended to have a useful life of no more than ten years, recovery for any harm occurring more than twelve years after purchasing it is barred by statute.
What Types of Damages May be Awarded in a Product Liability Case?
As with any suit based on injury, you may be awarded actual or compensatory damages based on any harm that resulted from your use of a defective product. Actual or compensatory damages include repayment of medical bills and property loss but can also include lost wages and pain and suffering resulting from the injury.
Additionally, if a product’s defect is particularly egregious or the manufacturer had reason to know of the defect but sold the defective product anyway, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages punish a manufacturer for selling defective products to discourage bad behavior in the future.
If You are Injured by a Defective Product in South Florida, Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A.
The products we buy make our lives easier, and we place a lot of trust in the manufacturers of those products to make sure they are safe. You shouldn’t have to worry whether a child safety seat is effective or a cell phone’s battery might explode in your pocket. The manufacturers of these products are held to a high standard to ensure their products are not defective and safe for their intended use. If a defective product has injured you or a family member, our personal injury attorneys can evaluate your case and help you determine whether you are entitled to recovery for your injuries. Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. to get the experience of a trial-tested product liability attorney on your side.