In Bradenton, people rely on products to enhance or ease their daily lives. However, sometimes the products that people use have defects that cause them to perform in unexpected and dangerous ways, causing injury or even death.
If you were injured due to a product defect, a product liability lawyer provides you an avenue to pursue compensation for the expenses and impacts on your quality of life. The Bradenton Product Liability Lawyers at Dolman Law Group could help you understand this legal process. Contact us for a free case evaluation today.
What Is Bradenton Product Liability?
All parties along the chain of manufacture have the legal responsibility to ensure that the products they manufacture and distribute for consumer use are safe when used according to labeled instructions.
Those included in the chain of manufacture are:
- The manufacturer of parts, at the top of the chain.
- The assembling manufacturer.
- The wholesaler.
- The retail store, at the bottom of the chain.
While product liability was traditionally a matter impacting personal property, many product liability cases now involve intangible objects such as gas, as well as pets, real estate, and even writings (such as navigational charts).
Product Defects That Create Liability
There are essentially three defects that can cause product liability. Those defects include:
- Design defects. This kind of defect is inherent even before the product is manufactured. In this type of product liability case, the claimant must prove that the design was effective by showing that an alternative design would be safer, while as economically feasible and practical as the original design.
- Manufacturing defects. This type of defect occurs during the manufacture or production of an item. A manufacturing defect occurs when the product strays from its original design and becomes more dangerous than the product's label indicates or than the consumer expects it to be.
- Marketing defects. Marketing defects include a label that features improper instructions for use or that fails to warn consumers of known dangers that exist within the product.
Defective products fall under Florida's strict liability rules, meaning that the claimant does not have to prove that the manufacturer or the distributor was actually negligent in selling a defective product. Product defects are not the only cause for a product liability action, however.
Other issues that can create liability include:
- Negligence: This type of case focuses on the manufacturer, seller, or distributor's negligence in selling a product that they knew or reasonably should have known did not perform as expected.
Common Subjects of Bradenton Product Liability Claims
Virtually any product can be the subject of a product liability case. However, some products are more frequently mentioned in legal claims than others.
Some of the most common subjects of product liability claims include:
- Medical devices, including hip replacements, walkers, pacemakers, and other devices that are meant to be surgically inserted in the body to address a medical condition or that are used to assist an individual with a medical condition.
- Medications. Many medications currently under recall due to the failure to warn the consumer of all of the risks associated with taking the product, or because impurities in the ingredients have caused physical harm to consumers.
- Auto parts. Thousands of parts go into the making of a vehicle, including parts that make up the engine, the airbags, and the brakes. Any one of these parts can fail and have dangerous or deadly consequences.
- Children's toys. It is usually assumed that products made for children would be designed and manufactured with the most stringent regulations in place to protect the youngest consumers from unnecessary hazards. However, many toys contain pieces or even batteries that can cause choking or defective designs or labels that can mislead parents into thinking that they are safer than they really are.
- Home improvement tools. There are inherent risks with using power tools such as drills or saws. However, sometimes there are also defects with these products that make them less safe, even if used according to the label.
How Attorneys Prove Product Liability in Bradenton
Plaintiffs can prove Bradenton product liability by establishing these elements:
- The product featured a defect with design, manufacture, or marketing.
- You were using the product as the manufacturer intended for it to be used, or the way a reasonable person was expected to use it.
- The product defect was the proximate cause of the accident that resulted in your injury.
- You experienced a loss—either actual or monetary—as a result of using the defective product.
Recovering Damages in Your Bradenton Product Liability Case
Florida's laws define product liability action as “a civil action based on the theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or other similar theories for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”
Individuals have four years to file legal claims for compensation in a civil court. However, this clock does not start ticking until the injured individual discovers the injury.
A wrongful death lawsuit often addresses product liability when an individual died because of a product defect. Like a product liability claim, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court. The statute of limitation for wrongful death product liability cases is two years from the date on which the death occurred.
The legal term “damage” refers to a payment made in compensation for harm. Florida allows product liability and wrongful death claimants to claim both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are a payment made for out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred as a result of the injury.
Examples of the costs included in Bradenton product liability economic damage claims include:
- Medical expenses, including the costs associated with emergency treatment, ambulance transport, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or being required to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury you sustained because of the product defect results in a permanent disability that renders you unable to work or to earn in the same capacity as you did before you sustained the injury.
- The cost of repairing or replacing your personal property that was damaged as a result of the product defect. Examples of property damage claims involved in a product liability case would be a vehicle crashed due to defective auto parts, or the contents of a home a defective space heater burned.
The out-of-pocket expenses often included in a product liability wrongful death claim include:
- The loss of support and services provided by the deceased.
- The cost of medical care in the treatment of the deceased's final injury, either paid directly by a family member or by the deceased's estate.
- The cost of funeral services and burial or cremation, either paid directly by a family member or by the deceased's estate.
- The loss of wages and benefits that the deceased would have earned if he or she had survived.
- The loss of prospective net accumulations to the deceased's estate that the deceased could have reasonably earned throughout his or her career if he or she had survived.
Non-economic damages are a payment made in compensation for the impacts on the injured person's quality of life that were incurred because of the injury.
Some common impacts included in product liability claims are:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
Commonly claimed quality of life impacts in product liability wrongful death claims include:
- The loss of companionship, guidance, and protection that was provided by the deceased to his or her family members.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child.
Class Action and MDL Product Liability Cases
Often, the product that caused an individual's injury was part of a batch or lot in which the defective product was also sent or prescribed to other consumers. When a large number of consumers have similar complaints about the same product, the court system has two options for relieving the burden on the court as well as ensuring that all of these cases being heard in separate jurisdictions are evaluated fairly.
In a class action lawsuit, many independent lawsuits with materially similar complaints against the same defendant will consolidate into one case in which a single lawyer leads the legal effort and a single jurisdiction considers the facts of the claim. Typically, in class action lawsuits, a few plaintiffs are selected to represent the class. The court's decision is legally binding for all of the participants in the class action, and all of the plaintiffs share the award.
According to the consumer advocacy organization Consumer Action, several class actions are currently open to claims for products that include:
- GM ignition switch. Certain models have been subject to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall, and consumers who purchased or leased these models may be eligible for a cash payment.
- Hyundai and Kia's Theta engine on certain models manufactured between 2011-2019. The gasoline direct injection engines are defective and have caused engine seizure, engine failure, and fire.
- Electrolux clothes dryers manufactured between 2002-2011 cause fires due to lint buildup.
In multidistrict litigation, known as MDL, many cases are consolidated into one for the pretrial proceedings and discovery. A group of attorneys referred to as the Plaintiff's Steering Community manages the cases. Once those phases of the action are complete, each plaintiff's case will be returned to his or her own jurisdiction, the attorney representation of each plaintiff's choice, and their own trial.
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has hundreds of currently pending MDLs in districts across the U.S.
A few examples of these MDLs include:
- 3M combat arms earplugs that failed to work as marketed and resulted in thousands of U.S. military members suffering hearing loss.
- Aqueous film-forming foam used to fight hydrocarbon fires on airports and military posts. This foam contaminated water with dangerous ingredients that cause cancer and other medical issues.
- Zantac (Ranitidine), which was found to contain impurities that can cause cancer in individuals who have used the popular prescription and over-the-counter antacid regularly over a long time.
- Mesothelioma/asbestos. This MDL focuses on asbestos that industries regularly used in the previous century. Asbestos exposure causes a particularly deadly form of cancer that generally forms in the lining of the lungs.
- Monsanto's Roundup lawsuit. The carcinogenic ingredients of Roundup weed killer have been found to cause cancer and have been the subject of multiple MDLs.
How Our Bradenton Attorneys Can Help with Your Products Liability Claim
Product liability cases can be incredibly complex.
From gathering the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claims to joining a class action or an MDL, an attorney can assist in this difficult category of cases through:
- Guidance as to your legal options for obtaining compensation for your injury.
- Determining all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you.
- Filing of your lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction before the statutory filing deadline.
- Attending all court-required pre-trial conferences and hearings on your behalf.
- Collecting of evidence and witness testimony that can be used to strengthen your case.
- Litigating, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Collecting your settlement or award.
- Negotiating a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bradenton Product Liability
Product liability is often one of the most confusing areas of law. Some of the aspects that make these cases so difficult include the burden of proof being on you to prove that the product was defective, the presence of class actions or MDLs, and the court formalities in other cases. If a defective product injured you, read on for the answers to the questions our Bradenton clients ask most frequently about product liability. For more information about your legal options, contact Dolman Law Group today.
How do I know who is liable for the injury I suffered due to a product defect in Bradenton?
Anyone in the distribution chain can be found liable for a product defect, including:
- The manufacturer of components of the product, at the top of the distribution chain, has a higher duty of care to consumers than other members of the chain.
- The assembly manufacturers that assemble the product.
- The wholesale distributor that receives the product from the manufacturer and provides it for sale in retail stores.
- Retail stores that make the defective product available to consumers.
Florida law allows each of these members of the distribution chain to be named in the claim and each can shoulder a portion of the liability.
What information are packaging labels for products sold in Bradenton required to contain?
The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) requires the following information for products sold in the U.S.:
- Declaration of identity.
- Declaration of responsibility, including the names and addresses of the manufacturer, packer, and distributor.
- Declaration of net quantity, servings, or uses.
If the product is manufactured in a foreign country, U.S. laws require that every article of foreign origin contained in the product be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly and permanently as the package or container will allow.
Why are expert witnesses often used in Bradenton product liability cases?
Product liability cases often involve difficult concepts for many people to understand, including complex chemical reactions resulting from bad prescription drugs and their impact on the individuals who take them, as well as the technical aspects as to why a product failed. Expert witnesses who can speak to these reactions and technical aspects can strengthen your claims and help the judge or jury in litigation to understand the elements of the case.
What are the types of product defects most commonly associated with this type of legal claim?
Several products are more likely than others to be defective or cause serious injury to consumers and warrant a product liability claim.
Some of those products include:
- Auto parts. There are thousands of parts that go into the creation of a motor vehicle. Manufacturers must design and build these products to hold up to highway speeds and miles of wear and tear.
- Appliances. Household appliances are another common subject of product liability claims, as they cause serious injuries when they malfunction.
- Medications and medical devices. We trust our doctors and pharmacists to provide us with the medications and devices that we need to treat medical conditions. However, defective medications that fail to warn of dangerous side effects or manufacturers who fail to eliminate impurities that could cause unanticipated issues can lead to deadly illnesses and injury.
Can I file a claim for a product that is old?
It depends on the product. However, if you are still using a product well after its expected lifespan, you probably can't file a claim. In Florida, if you were injured by a product that has a useful lifespan of ten years or less, you generally can't file a liability claim if the harm was caused more than 12 years after the delivery of the product to its first purchaser.
I suffered a physical injury as a result of a bad side effect of a drug. Do I have a Bradenton product liability case?
We would have to learn more about the details of your case to say for sure. However, many drugs are on the market today carry known, serious side effects. When your physician prescribed the medication for you, he or she should have gone over these known risks with you, and the drug's labeling should have also contained warnings from the manufacturer about known side effects. If both of those things did in fact happen, then you likely do not have a legal claim. To help find out for sure, contact Dolman Law Group.
What is negligence in Bradenton product liability claims?
Negligence in product liability claims occurs when a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, or anyone else in the distribution chain places a product into the stream of commerce that contains dangerous design, manufacturing, or marketing defects.
What is strict liability in Bradenton product liability cases?
Strict liability exists in both civil and criminal law and places liability (also known as legal responsibility) on the defendant regardless of that defendant's intent. In Florida, courts may find manufacturers strictly liable for a defective product they place in the stream of commerce.
Who studies products to ensure that they are safe?
Several federal agencies oversee the safety of products for the American public:
- The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, which is a commission charged with protecting the public from the dangerous effects of thousands of different types of products, particularly those that pose fire, chemical, and electrical hazards, as well as products such as children's toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and much more.
- The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for protecting consumers from dangerous food and drugs. The FDA is responsible for instigating recalls on dangerous products, as well as developing safety requirements and approving the use of certain drugs and other medical treatments.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is responsible for saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing the economic costs of traffic crashes by providing vehicle safety standards and enforcement.
- Department of Transportation, which is also responsible for ensuring that vehicles and vehicle parts sold to consumers are safe to be operated on U.S. roadways.
- The Department of Energy and the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with ensuring the safety of appliances that participate in the EnergyGuide and other energy efficiency programs.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of agriculturally produced food, including meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, as well as organic products including fibers.
- The Department of Treasury, which oversees the safety of certain regulated products such as tobacco, beer, and distilled spirits.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees the safety of products that are used in the workplace.
- The Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the safety of pesticides.
How soon can I file a Bradenton product liability claim?
You can file a Bradenton product liability or wrongful death claim as soon as you and your attorney have determined the sources of liability and insurance resources available to compensate you. However, you must file your claim within four years for a Bradenton product liability claim, or two years for a wrongful death claim to avoid losing your right to obtain compensation.
What are the pros and cons of joining a class action?
The benefits of class actions include:
- A reduction in the burden on the U.S. court system if hundreds or even thousands of cases were filed over similar complaints against the same defendants.
- There is power in numbers. Members of the class present a stronger case simply due to the volume of claims and the participation of the attorneys involved.
- Everyone receives a settlement if the class wins the case.
Some of the downsides of a class action include:
- Less control of how the case is handled or the settlement that is reached.
- Class actions take a long time to resolve, meaning you will be waiting for your settlement for months or even years.
- Each participant receives the same amount of the settlement, meaning that you may have to agree to an amount far lower than the value of your case.
I suffered minor injuries from a defective appliance in Bradenton. There were not many expenses involved. Should I file a claim?
Even though your injuries are mild, the next person to be injured by the same product defect might not be so lucky. Report the defect to the appropriate federal agency that oversees the safety of that sort of product. A claim can help hold the distribution chain responsible for introducing a dangerous product into the stream of commerce.
What is the difference between a case based on negligence and a strict liability case in Bradenton?
One claim focuses on the manufacturer, while the other claim focuses on the product. If an individual wishes to bring a product liability case under negligence, he or she must show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacture, and marketing of the case. In strict liability cases, the claimant must only show that the product was unreasonably dangerous.
How much is my Bradenton product liability case worth?
Each case is based on unique facts, so it is impossible to know how much your case is worth without understanding those facts.
However, the process of determining the value of your case involves:
- The expenses that you have incurred or likely will incur in the future because of your injury are added together to develop your total economic damage claim.
- The more severe your injuries, the more non-economic damages your lawyer will fight for.
- The economic and non-economic damage totals are then added together. The total of these two damage categories is the value of your case.
Is the settlement I received from my Bradenton product liability claim taxable?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the award or settlement you receive from a Bradenton product liability or wrongful death claim is not considered income and is, therefore, not taxable. However, there is an exception to this rule as it pertains to punitive damages. Punitive damages are not compensation for harm done to the plaintiff, but as a way to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior. Because this damage award does not reimburse you for the costs of your injuries, this portion of your damages does not constitute income that the IRS taxes.
If you claimed your medical expenses as an itemized deduction on your tax returns and then later received a damage award for medical expenses, you must pay back the amount you deducted.
I cannot afford an attorney. Should I just file my Bradenton product liability claim on my own?
An attorney's guidance and knowledge of the legal process could improve the outcome of your case. Moreover, our Bradenton product liability attorneys offer two special services to ensure that every injured person who needs legal assistance can obtain that assistance, regardless of their financial status.
These services are:
- Free case evaluations. Your free case evaluation allows you time with an experienced product liability attorney to obtain information about your legal options and learn more about the attorney and the firm without obligation.
- Contingent-fee payments. Contingent fee payment means that you do not pay for your attorney's services until there is an outcome to your case. For more information about this structure, contact a Bradenton personal injury attorney at Dolman Law Group.
Call Our Bradenton Product Liability Attorneys Now
Let the product liability team at Dolman Law Group help you make sense of the legal process of obtaining compensation for the expenses and impacts that you incurred because of an injury caused by a defective product. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group at (941) 613-5747 or contact us online.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
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