Seeking Compensation for Defective Product Injuries
Consumers burned by a cup of hot coffee, a tire blowout that results in a car accident, or the long-term use of a supposedly safe product like baby powder—these are the types of incidents which have resulted in successful product liability lawsuits over the last decade.
It seems like on a regular basis, we see product recalls because of concerns of one type or another. A tire that was poorly designed, car airbags that cause unexpected injuries, pet food and treats that cause health issues, or child safety seats which fail to protect our children. Product liability claims often are the end-result of numerous consumers suffering an illness, injury, or accident after purchasing a product which they believed to be safe.
Product Liability Law Basics
When we spend our hard-earned money on a product, we expect it will perform as intended and not cause us harm if used as directed. “Product liability” law has evolved to help compensate victims when products fail to live up to these standards. There are three basic types of product defects that fall under the law of product liability:
- Design defects – The design of a product makes the product unsafe for its intended use.
- Manufacturing defects – The design of the product may be safe, but the product was made in an unsafe way for its intended use.
- Warning and/or label defects – The design and manufacturing of a product may be okay, but the manufacturer’s failure to warn about inherent dangers of the product when used as intended makes it unsafe. Like the cancer causing drug Zantac and the current Zantac lawsuit for those suffering from taking the drug.
Under Florida law, when a product falls into any of these categories and it injures a product user while being used as intended, the product’s manufacturer will be held “strictly liable” for the injuries. The manufacturer and others involved in the design, manufacturing, and sale of the product may also be found liable for negligence relating to the product.
Defects Can Be Difficult to Spot, Widely Damaging
One of the many challenges consumers face is knowing when they may have the ability to sue a manufacturer or other person or entity involved in putting a defective product into the “stream of commerce.” Unfortunately, too often, the dangers of a product are either overlooked, or they are not identified until months or years after a product has been widely distributed.
Manufacturers often have strong reasons to keep a defect quiet. Product recalls and product liability lawsuits cost companies millions and injure their brand identity. Fortunately, the threat of lawsuits and actions by government regulators help hold manufacturers accountable for the quality of their products.
Florida Law Requires Proof of Defect, Causation, and Damages
To prove that a manufacturer should be held “strictly liable” for a product that causes harm, the victim (or class of victims) must prove three basic facts: that the product was “defective” under one of the three categories above; that the product’s defect caused an injury to the consumer or class of consumers, and that the consumer or class of consumers suffered damages (other than the damage to the product itself). In addition, when a victim claims her injury resulted from the negligence of someone in the “chain of commerce”, the victim must prove those same facts plus the failure of the responsible party to fulfill a duty of care it owed to the victim.
For example, if a kitchen appliance is defective because it contains a heating coil that will explode under normal use, the manufacturer can be held strictly liable under Florida law by showing that including the coil caused the product to be unsafe when used as intended, that the defect led to a heating coil exploding and injuring a user, and that the user suffered damages—such as personal injuries, emotional trauma, and property damage (other than damage to the appliance itself). To hold the retailer liable under a theory of negligence, the victim would also have to show the retailer knew of the unsafe nature of the product and did not take steps to protect its customers from it by, say, removing it from store shelves.
When to Hire a New Port Richey Product Liability Attorney
Consumers who have suffered an injury or illness, lost a loved one, or have a child who is suffering, because of a potential product liability can benefit from contacting an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. Product liability matters can quickly grow complicated. They require a level of attention to detail and experience that’s greater than many other legal matters. An experienced product liability attorney can guide a victim through the process of preserving evidence, seeking appropriate medical care and expert evaluation, identifying the specific product defect at issue, finding the manufacturer and others in the “chain of commerce” who may be responsible, and seeking compensation from insurance companies or through the legal process.
Product liability is not an area of law that just any lawyer can handle. Succeeding in pursuing a product liability claim against a well-funded manufacturer with an army of defense lawyers requires resources, patience, persistence, compassion, and commitment. A skilled product liability lawyer has access to a network of forensic experts who can evaluate what caused a product to fail, can calculate the lifetime cost of your injuries, and can sift through mountains of data and emails that could serve as evidence that a manufacturer knew about a problem and did nothing.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a product that failed when it was used as intended, contact the seasoned and dedicated product liability legal team in Dolman Law Group’s New Port Richey office today. We are available online or by phone at (727) 853-6275. We offer free consultations to discuss your product liability situation, and in appropriate cases may agree to represent clients on a contingency fee basis in which we collect our legal fees only if we recover a settlement or judgment for our client. When products fail and harm consumers, Dolman Law Group is ready to help.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652