Every year, thousands of injuries in the United States are caused by defective products. Florida is no exception. Out of the 2.7 million hospital discharges in Florida for the 2017 calendar year, hundreds of those involved product liability.
If you’re one of the many who are injured in a defective product accident, you should consult with a product liability attorney in Florida. There are laws in place to protect you from negligent manufacturers. 1-800-Injured wants to connect you to a product liability attorney who will fight for you.
What is Product Liability?
A manufacturer or seller has the responsibility of providing safe products. But they don’t always do that. At times, they make or sell defective products.
By law, products should meet the expectations of consumers. If a product is dangerous, it does not meet the expectation. The consumer is able to rely on product liability law in Florida to get them money for their injuries and accident-related expenses.
Product liability is based on state laws. In Florida, there are a few reasons you might have a product liability claim:
One common cause of product liability is a defective design. This type of defect is apparent even before a manufacturer makes the product. The design makes it unsafe and a hazard to those who use it properly.
It’s also possible that the product was not made properly. For instance, a manufacturer or assembly worker could have made the product in the way it was not intended to be made.
Some products are inherently dangerous. However, if properly labeled, customers will be aware of the danger. Failing to label a dangerous product, provide a safety warning, or give the right instructions are all examples of marketing defects.
Your product liability case hinges on determining liability. If you file a lawsuit against the wrong party, you won’t get good results. Before you do anything, you need to know who is to blame for the accident.
In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. However, there is often overwhelming evidence in favor of the victim.
If you have a strict liability case, however, you do not need to prove the manufacturer was negligent. You do need to show the product was defective. Once again, this makes it much easier for you to recover damages. The burden of proof is not entirely on your shoulders.
When Isn’t the Manufacturer or Retailer Responsible?
There are some accidents where you may assume partial or total blame. For instance, a manufacturer or retailer is not always responsible for an accident caused by a dangerous object. You could be using a sharp knife and slice your finger open. However, the knife needs to be sharp to be effective. It’s unlikely you would be able to hold the manufacturer accountable for your injury.
In some cases, there is no reasonable way to make a product less dangerous. Consider the airbags in a car. When deployed, an airbag could cause you serious harm. But there is no affordable or reasonable way to make airbags safer. A product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer would probably be a waste of time.
At other times, you were warned of a hazard. Assume that you buy a children’s toy with a bright “choking hazard” label on it. If you give your child the toy and leave them unsupervised, they could choke on it. A sufficient warning of danger leaves you no grounds for a personal injury claim. However, there are some cases in which the warning is not noticeable or clear enough. If this happens, you could attempt to recover damages.
Finally, there’s the issue of using a product improperly. A product designer or manufacturer expects you to use a product in the intended manner. Although you’re free to use the product however you want, this could exclude you from a personal injury settlement.
What Are Examples of Product Liability Cases in Florida?
To fully understand product liability, you should consider some examples. In Florida, there have been several high profile product liability cases. Although there have been many other cases that were significant, these five cases managed to grab attention.
1. Lawsuit Against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Possibly involving one of the largest product liability settlement offers in the state, the lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco attracted attention across the country. The case was tried in front of a jury in Pensacola. It all began when a 36-year-old man died after decades of smoking. Because his death was linked to smoking, attorneys were able to convince the court to award the victim’s family $16.9 million for damages.
That wasn’t all. The family was also given $23.6 billion in punitive damages. Although an appeal did reduce the damages, one fact remains clear. A product liability claim can result in a significant payout.
2. Asbestos Lawsuit
Another large payout was awarded in a Florida asbestos lawsuit. In 1997, a jury decided Deward Ballard should receive $1.8 million in damages and $31 million in punitive damages.
The lawsuit was filed against Ownes Corning. As the lawsuit progressed, it became clear that the company hid information about the presence of asbestos in their products. The concealment went on for over 30 years. Being honest about the asbestos would have probably saved Ballard from his mesothelioma cancer.
3. Car Accident Claim
Although many people don’t realize it, product liability claims can involve car accidents. This was the case in 2016 when Kiara Dukes took on Michelin and Takata in a lawsuit. The plaintiff claimed that the tires and seatbelt were faulty, which contributed to their injuries.
Instead of taking a settlement, the plaintiff went to court. Sadly, the results were not in their favor. The jury sided with the defendant and the plaintiff missed out on $80 million in damages. Although this lawsuit wasn’t successful, there have been many other product liability car accident cases that were.
4. Merck & Co Class Action Case
This case did not only involve plaintiffs in Florida but also involved plaintiffs in New York and South Carolina. The lawsuit was against a drug known as Vioxx. Many victims complained that the drug caused heart attacks. In a large settlement, plaintiffs received $4.85 billion.
5. Tobacco Company Class Action Case
Another class-action lawsuit, this one involved three tobacco companies. R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, and Philip Morris were all sued. The case was tried in Miami in 2006. Although it was tried for $145 billion, a settlement of $100 million was agreed upon.
Who can bring a product liability lawsuit?
Anyone who was injured by a product they purchased in a marketplace could have a product liability lawsuit. It comes down to the circumstances of the accident.
For you to have a case, you must have experienced an injury from the defective product. There also must have been some type of negligent act on behalf of one party. Typically, the blame lies with one of the following parties:
- Manufacturer of the product
- The company that made parts for the product
- The party who assembled or installed the product
- Retail store
It’s important to note that products bought in garage sales and flea markets may not be subject to product liability law in Florida. However, you can speak with a product liability attorney in Florida to learn more. Every situation should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Unless you have experience with product liability, you cannot know if your accident qualifies you for a lawsuit.
One element of your case is proving the product’s defectiveness. For you to have a case, there needs to be some proof of a defect. There also needs to be evidence that the defect is what made the product dangerous.
Statute of Limitations
If you plan on filing a lawsuit for product liability, you need to comply with the statute of limitations. According to Florida law, you only have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
That said, there are some exceptions. If your injury is not discovered until a later date, the clock does not begin ticking until the date of discovery. You may have four years from the day you discover the harm to file your claim.
Working with a Product Liability Attorney in Florida
In Florida, the average income is only $52,594. Your accident could leave you with no money left to pay your bills. Why suffer in silence when you can seek compensation for your accident?
There are attorneys who specialize in product liability law in Florida. Choosing one who has experience with defective products greatly increases your chance of a positive outcome for your case. If you need to connect with a product liability attorney, contact 1-800-Injured. We’re ready to help you find a proven, diligent attorney for your case.