We just got through the season of giving, but that also makes it the season of getting for a lot of people. If you or someone love was injured due to a seeming defect in one of their new toys – literal or figurative – you might be feeling angry. You might be wondering if you have a legal case against someone because of the problems cause by their product.
It depends. Under Florida law, there are three different general ways that a product can be deemed defective. Understanding these three defect categories can both give you a decent sense of whether you have a viable case and let you know what type of case you are likely looking at if you decide to file a claim.
Below, we’re going to detail the three types of product defect categories and explain what protections you have under Florida law.
If the design intended by the manufacturer turns out to present an unreasonable hazard to the consumer, the manufacturer may be held liable for defective design in your case.
Florida courts will determine reasonable hazards based on a test of consumer expectations. If a reasonable consumer would expect the product to be safe under intended use, but the product fails to meet this reasonable expectation, the manufacturer’s liability would be primary.
An example of this would be an improperly designed battery storage component on a toy, which could lead to burns from leaking batteries.
This type of defect occurs during the manufacturing process itself. That means the product design was safe, but as it was being made, flaws in the manufacturing process created unreasonable danger.
The manufacturer can be held liable for a product that causes injury due to defects that occurred between the design process and the packaging or distribution process.
For example, a foreign object could enter a bottle of pills during the manufacturing process, leading to contamination.
Failure to Warn
If a manufacturer or distributor fails to place adequate and appropriate warnings on the packaging of the product, this is another way that they can be held liable for consumer injuries.
A common example of this would be a drug that does not include complete warnings of possible side effects for overdoses. The product may have been designed and manufactured properly, but the packaging failed to reasonably warn the consumer of the known dangers.
With this kind of product defect case, your attorney will need to prove that the risk of injury would have been lowered or eradicated with a reasonable warning.
How Florida Liability Claims Work
Statute of Limitations. You have a limit of four years to file a product liability lawsuit in Florida. What that means is that you have four years from the date that you discover the problem to file a claim.
However, it is also important to note that there is also a 12-year statute of repose. This means that 12 years after a product is delivered to the first purchaser, the manufacturer cannot be held liable for harm in most cases.
Comparative Negligence. Florida courts use the comparative negligence rule in product liability cases. This means that if you are found partially at fault for your injury, the court will award payment to you based on the percentage of liability.
For example, if a product caused $50,000 in damage to your home, but you were found 50 percent liable, your maximum award would be $25,000 from the at-fault party.
The court will take into account the scientific and technological knowledge of the designer and manufacturer at the time the product was made and consider how that bears on the overall liability.
Get Legal Assistance
Product liability cases tend to be complicated and hard-fought, and they can be difficult to win on your own. Companies are reluctant to admit fault and will pull out all the stops to shut your case down. To give yourself the best chance at success, you need the help of an experienced Florida injury attorney who will fight on your behalf. Call today for a free case review.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.