3 Types of Product Liability Claims

January 5, 2023
3 Types of Product Liability Claims

Defective Product Liability Claims Lawyer

A defective product is harmful in its design, manufacturing, or failure to warn of inherent risks. Due to the unpredictably dangerous nature of defective products, unassuming consumers receive thousands of injuries every year, including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and soft tissue injuries.

If a defective product injures you, you may have a claim for damages against the designer, manufacturer, distributor, importer, or seller in the chain of distribution who is liable for your injury. A product liability lawyer can help you sort through what caused your damages, who is liable, and how much compensation you can pursue. However, before you file your product liability lawsuit, it is important to know that there are a few different ways you can approach a product liability claim. Read on to learn about the 3 types of product liability claims.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability is a legal theory that holds designers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of defective consumer products liable for their negligence. Their negligence for their role in the chain of distribution led to a consumer purchasing a product with risks not inherent to the product. Defective products can malfunction and cause severe injuries to consumers, such as traumatic brain injuries, facial injuries, and internal injuries.

You could file a product liability claim with the at-fault party if a defective product caused a severe injury. It's important to note that just because you received an injury from a product doesn't mean it was defective. If you received harm that was listed as a caution on the product or was caused by your incorrect use of the product, you could not file a product liability claim. The injury must come from the product's defect, whether that be a design defect, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn.

What are the Three Types of Product Liability Claims?

From recalled vehicles due to defective airbags to recalled pieces of furniture due to toppling risks, many products containing hazardous defects are sold to the American public. Consumers unaware of these hazards can receive catastrophic injuries that change their life forever. Learn about the three types of product liability claims from our liability claims lawyers.

The following are the three types of product liability claims:

Design Defect Product Liability Claims

The first type of product liability claim is a lawsuit that is based on the defective design of a product. A civil action based on defective design alleges that the product is inherently dangerous based on its design alone rather than an error made during the manufacture of the product.

For example, a car that is top heavy – and therefore poses a high risk of a rollover accident – is an example of a defectively designed product that could be the cause of a catastrophic injury. Some products that can have a defective design include car parts, household products, and toys.

Florida Law Regarding Design Defects

According to Florida Statute 768.81, a product is defective because of a design defect if it is in a condition “unreasonably dangerous” to the user or a person in the vicinity of the product, and the product is expected to and does reach the user without substantial change affecting that condition.

A product is “unreasonably dangerous” because of its design if it fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended, when used in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer, or when the risk of danger in the design outweighs the benefits. (See Florida Standard Jury Instructions).

This means that one can potentially recover compensation in a product liability defect design case even if they are a bystander not using the product. In this instance, strict liability—liability that does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm—applies. Liability to a bystander does not depend on whether the defendant actually foresaw the particular bystander’s presence. See West v. Caterpillar Tractor Co. Inc., 336 So.2d 80, 89 (Fla. 1976) (finding that injury to a bystander by a defective product is often feasible).

How to File a Defective Design Product Liability Claim

To succeed in a design defect case, the plaintiff must plead and prove:

  1. The defendant’s relationship to the product in question
  2. The defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the product
  3. The existence of a causal connection between the product’s condition and the plaintiff’s injuries or damages

Some courts in Florida do require that the plaintiff show the defect existed at the time of the accident and at the time the product was in the defendant’s possession.

To prove (1) the Defendant’s relationship to the product, the plaintiff must show that the Defendant is in the business of distributing or disposing of the allegedly defective product and that the Defendant placed the allegedly defective product into the stream of commerce. See Johnson v. Supro Corp., 498 So. 2d 528 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986). In regards to the second (2) element above, a product is considered unreasonably dangerous because of its design if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended or in a manner reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer or the risk of harm in the design outweighs the benefits. See Force v. Ford Motor Co., 879 So. 2d 103, 106 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004).

Manufacturing Defects Product Liability Claims

Manufacturing defects are the most common cause of product liability claims. A product liability lawsuit based on a manufacturing defect alleges that the original design of the product is completely safe but that something happened during the manufacturing process to make the product unsafe. A manufacturing defect exists if the product does not conform to its intended design and fails to perform safely as the intended design would have performed.

In products liability law, if a product is unreasonably dangerous because of its design if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended or in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer, or the risk of harm in the design outweighs the benefits. see Force, 879 So. 2d 103 at 106.

For example, a set of tires is designed to support the weight of a vehicle, resist punctures, and hold up against wear and tear – by accepted standards, the tires are safe for use. However, during the manufacture of these well-designed tires, sawdust gets into the adhesive glue that is used to secure the tire together, resulting in a high risk of tire tread separation, tire blowout, and a serious accident.

Filing a Manufacturing Defect Product Liability Claim

Manufacturing defects product liability claims can be difficult to prove due to the amount of proof you must collect. As the plaintiff, you must prove that:

  • An injury occurred
  • The product in question was defective
  • The defective product was the primary cause of your injury
  • The manufacturer of the product acted negligently during the production of the product

To prove all of this, you will need an experienced product liability lawyer. With their experience, they can assist you with evidence collection and discover ways to uncover manufacturing process information. They can also get in touch with an expert witness to attest to the defective nature of the product to prove the manufacturer's liability.

Warning or Labeling Defects Product Liability Claims

In a product liability claim that focuses on a warning or labeling defect, the plaintiff alleges that the product had some inherent danger, such as choking hazards, flammability, or the ability to cause injury. The manufacturer of those products has a legal duty to adequately warn of this danger but failed to do so.

This is very common with prescription medications. Patients may take a certain medication only to experience adverse side effects that the pharmaceutical company did not disclose. Strict liability based on a defective warning can apply to both avoidably and unavoidably unsafe products.

Manufacturers are not required to warn of every possible risk, but only those risks that are discoverable in light of the generally recognized and prevailing best knowledge available. A warning defect can include inadequate wording, the location of the warning, or other circumstances concerning the manner in which the warning is conveyed. If a manufacturer fails on their duty to warn of a product's inherent danger, they can be held liable in a product liability suit.

Examples of Warning or Labeling Defect Product Liability Claims

Warning or labeling defects can occur with nearly any type of product – consider the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case. McDonald’s was sued after a customer spilled a hot cup of coffee on herself, suffering serious burns. The woman sued the fast-food chain, which admitted that it had not warned customers of the nature and extent of the risk of serious burns from spilled coffee.

Another example would be the overwhelming amount of Zantac-related injuries and the Zantac Lawsuits. Users of the drug that is supposed to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach have come away with cancer diagnoses at an abnormally high rate because of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) contamination. To learn more, speak with our Zantac claims lawyer to discuss your potential recovery options through a Zantac lawsuit claim.

Damages in a Product Liability Claim

No matter what type of defect led to your injury, the fallout of a defective product injury can lead to heavy economic and non-economic losses. You will have to pay for medical treatment of your injury, as well as suffer from lost income and earning potential. Non-economic damages are also significant due to the effect of a defective product injury on someone's mental health, relationships, and quality of life that cannot be quantified in a dollar form.

A product liability claim can help put you on the path to recovering the money you lost due to the negligence of someone in the chain of distribution.

The following are some of the damages you can pursue with a product liability claim:

How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help With Your Claim?

Those who have received harm from defective products in any of the aforementioned ways should consider speaking to a product liability attorney about seeking compensation for damages suffered. Filing a product liability claim can get you compensation for the various damages you could have suffered as a result of defective products like medical bills, lost wages, and mental anguish.

It is important that you speak to the right lawyer when considering taking legal action over a defective product. You should go to a personal injury lawyer that specializes in product liability cases since there is a lot of specific knowledge involved in these kinds of cases. You should always check to see what kinds of cases a prospective product liability lawyer has handled as well. Look for a case history of success with lawsuits involving details similar to your case like injuries, damages, the type of product, defect, etc.

With the right lawyer, you can be assured that details like the investigation and valuation of your defective product accident, negotiation with the insurance company, and other important matters are taken care of. The insurance company will have the resources and tactics to limit your settlement to keep their profits up. You need a product liability lawyer to help counteract the attempts to reduce your compensation and negotiate a fair settlement covering the full cost of your injuries.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Product Liability Claim

When you use a product like a home appliance or prescription drug, you don't expect it to malfunction or have dangerous side effects and cause an injury. If that happens, you have the right to pursue compensation from the product's designer, manufacturer, and other potentially negligent parties in the distribution chain. A product liability lawyer can use their experience in these types of cases to help you pursue fair compensation.

At Dolman Law Group, our experienced product liability lawyers will offer personalized attention to your case, ensuring that all your thoughts and concerns are addressed. We believe in "quality, not quantity," meaning we want to help a select number of victims to ensure they have the best representation possible. We will not advise you to accept the first low-ball offer made by the insurance company. Instead, we will work until you get your shot at fair compensation, even if that means going to court.

If you think that you may have a case against a manufacturer or seller of a dangerous product that caused you injuries, please contact our law offices today for a free consultation about your product liability claim. At the Dolman Law Group, our knowledgeable Florida defective product attorneys are here to advocate for you. Call us at (727) 451-6900 or leave a message on our online contact page.

Contact us online or at 727-222-6922 today.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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