Most Americans think that the products they buy from retailers are safe. Unfortunately, not every item works as advertised, and many suffer from manufacturing defects. Every year, thousands of individuals file product liability lawsuits, alleging that faulty products caused property damage, injuries, or even death.
What happens if you are injured by a defective product?
Hire an experienced attorney. At Sibley Dolman, our Fort Lauderdale, Florida, legal team has significant experience handling product liability claims.
We’re Veteran Product Liability Attorneys
At Sibley Dolman, we strive to achieve the best possible result for each of our clients. Our attorneys have been recognized by several top legal organizations for their hard work.
For example, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum has included our attorneys on its list of Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America. This group limits its membership to attorneys who have won multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, and fewer than one percent of American attorneys are members. Furthermore, the American Institute of Legal Counsel has named our firm as one of its Top 10 personal injury firms in Florida.
While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, our past results are indicative of our experience and hard work.
What Are Product Defects?
Product defects are errors that make retail items unsafe. These serious issues generally arise due to faulty manufacturing, design mistakes, or inadequate instructions. Florida law recognizes three types of product defects, discussed below.
1. Manufacturing defects
Manufacturing defects are the most common type of defect involved in product liability claims. Some examples of manufacturing defects include:
- Defective airbags that injure drivers during a collision
- Food that contains sharp plastic fragments
- Toys that catch fire due to defective wiring
An individual can only file a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer if the product caused actual injury. For example, car accident victims must prove that a defective airbag caused their injuries, rather than the accident itself, to have a valid product liability claim.
2. Defectively designed products
Defective designs don’t arise from the manufacturing process, but rather from a product’s original design. Below are three examples of design defects and potential consequences:
- A gun’s safety mechanism fails, causing it to fire unexpectedly.
- A car accelerates without warning, causing a fatal accident.
- An electric blanket electrocutes people due to poor circuitry design.
For a product liability claim to succeed, injured victims must prove that a defective design actually caused their injuries.
3. Marketing defects
Marketing defects are another area of product liability law, and generally involve inadequate instructions and a failure-to-warn. Manufacturers must warn their customers of any hidden dangers associated with their products. Failure to warn issues may involve:
- A drug company doesn’t alert users that its medicine can kill if it interacts with certain other medications.
- A company fails to alert users that its chemical catches fire under certain conditions.
- A manufacturer doesn’t warn buyers that its pressure cooker can explode if a safety valve isn’t open.
Again, a person’s injuries must result from the product’s marketing defects in order to have a valid personal injury claim.
What Is Product Liability Law?
Product liability law determines fault in cases involving defective products that cause injuries. Plaintiffs must go beyond merely showing that a product was defective to have a valid claim—they must prove that the faulty items:
- Caused significant injuries
- Caused serious illness
- Damaged property
Three Types of Product Liability Claims
Federal law does not cover product liability claims—rather, the laws of the local jurisdiction determine whether a manufacturer was liable for any injuries associated with its products. These laws vary by state. However, in 1995, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a Model Uniform Products Liability Act in an attempt to encourage uniformity across jurisdictions.
Product liability claims can be separated into three distinct areas:
- Strict liability cases
- Negligence cases
- Breach of warranty of fitness cases
1. Manufacturer negligence
In general, a manufacturer that fails to exercise the care that others would have done under similar circumstances has acted negligently. Negligence often involves careless behavior or actions, but it also includes a failure to act.
To establish negligence, a plaintiff must prove all of the following:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The plaintiff suffered an injury.
- The defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
Importantly, product liability law involves the legal doctrine res ipsa loquitur, which translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” This doctrine comes into play when, given the circumstances, it is obvious that the defect at issue could not have existed unless the manufacturer was negligent, and it shifts the burden of proof in product liability cases on to the defendant.
2. Strict products liability
Product liability claims also involve the idea of strict liability. Under strict products liability, a manufacturer is strictly liable for its product if that product injures a user, regardless of the whether the manufacturer intended to cause injury.
3. Breach of warranty of fitness
Retail products should adhere to specific standards of safety and performance. When retail items fail to meet this standard, users may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer for a breach of warranty of fitness. Below are the three types of warranties involved in product liability law:
- Express warranty: Express warranties involve actual guarantees made by retailers. They generally offer these warranties through sales contracts.
- Implied warranty: These warranties guarantee that products don’t have design or manufacturing defects. Implied warranties also assure that there are no improper labels.
- Implied warranty of fitness: The seller realizes the consumer is purchasing a product for a specific sale. Sellers can tell buyers which products are appropriate for their skill level. A product doesn’t need defects to violate the implied warranty of fitness.
What Are Qualifying Product Liability Cases?
To be valid, a product liability claim must satisfy three requirements:
1. The defendant must sell a commercial product that the plaintiff uses.
A defective product must be widely available in an actual marketplace before an injured user can pursue a product liability claim. Retail purchases qualify as contractual relationships, and parties to those contracts can sue for damages or to enforce their rights.
2. The product must have been defective when the defendant sold it.
The following parties may be found liable in a product liability case:
- The product manufacturer
- The supplier of the product’s materials and components
- The company responsible for the product’s installation
- Retail stores
- Anyone who has repaired the product
- Medical professionals
For strict liability to apply, a supplier must have sold its product in the marketplace, and the product’s defect must have caused the plaintiff’s injury. Individuals who sell used items at yard sales, for example, would not be held responsible in a product liability case, nor would the manufacturer of a defective product that failed to cause any injuries.
3. The plaintiff suffers an injury while using the defective product.
To have a valid product liability claim, a plaintiff’s injuries must have been caused, either directly or proximately, by the defective product. While the product generally must have been purchased from the manufacturer or from a third party supplier in an open marketplace, in most jurisdictions, the injured person does not need to have been the one to purchase the product to prevail in a product liability case. Someone else could have purchased the product, and the injured person can still recover.
How Manufacturers Try to Escape Liability
Product manufacturers understand the potential high cost of a product liability claim, which is why they regularly hire attorneys to build a strong defense and limit their liability.
You should consider hiring an experienced product liability attorney to handle your case. The seasoned attorneys at Sibley Dolman in Fort Lauderdale, have experience litigating product liability claims, and often hire experts to testify on behalf of their clients.
Damages in Product Liability Cases
Plaintiffs who succeed in their product liability claims could potentially recover the following damages:
- Lost earnings
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Damage or destruction of property
Evidence is important in product liability cases. Thus, if you have suffered an injury due to a defective product, you should preserve any relevant evidence. Below are some important steps that will help you collect evidence and establish a strong case:
- Take pictures of the scene and of your injuries.
- Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Obtain all information regarding the defective product.
- Seek medical attention.
- Document your injuries (through photos and by gathering medical records).
- Talk to an attorney before answering any questions from the insurers or product manufacturers.
- Don’t give any recorded or written statements without talking to an attorney first.
- Keep records and receipts of all related medical expenses.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Product Liability Attorney
If you’ve suffered a serious injury due to a defective product, contact Sibley Dolman in Fort Lauderdale. We will investigate the cause of your injury, and assess the validity of your product liability claim.
At Sibley Dolman, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t collect attorney fees unless we successfully recover in your case. We also offer a free, no obligations consultation. Contact Sibley Dolman at (754) 208-1130, or online, and speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today.
100 SE 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“This firm is amazing! Very professional, they helped me with my case until the end. They were available and very flexible. Brent Sibley would answer all my calls/emails and wouldn’t hesitate on explaining all of my concerns. They represented me on my case, in which it turned out to have a successful result. Super recommend them!”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!