Consumers never expect the products they buy to lead to a personal injury – or worse, a loved one’s death. There are strict federal and state laws in place to ensure the safety of the products that leave manufacturing companies and distributors. Yet, every year, hundreds of dangerous and defective products wind up in the hands of unsuspecting buyers. When these items cause serious or fatal injuries, victims or surviving family members may be able to bring a product liability claim in Fort Lauderdale. For trustworthy help with these types of lawsuits, come to the dedicated product liability lawyers at Kelley/Uustal. You will pay no fees until we are able to recover compensation for your injuries.
Florida Product Liability Laws
Every state has its own statutes regarding product liability cases. In Florida, the basis for a product liability lawsuit typically rests on the product itself. Instead of having to prove the manufacturer or distributor’s negligence, one must show that the product had a defect, and that this defect caused the injury. A “defect” may be anything that led to unreasonably dangerous conditions. On top of having proof of a product defect, a plaintiff must obey the multitude of rules for bringing these types of cases. These include the following:
- Time limits. If the defective product caused a personal injury or property damage, the plaintiff has four years from the date of the harm to file. If the product resulted in wrongful death, the deadline shortens to two years from the date of the death. There are exceptions for Florida’s statutes of limitations, so speak to an attorney before filing. Under no circumstances can someone file after the statute of repose, which is 12 years from the date of the delivery of the item to its first purchaser.
- Strict liability laws. Federal strict liability laws state that anyone who sells a product in a condition that’s unreasonably dangerous to the consumer may be liable for any physical harm or property damage the product causes. Under strict liability rules, manufacturers/sellers may be liable even if they took proper care in the creation of the item. Negligence and breach of warranty actions are separate from strict liability actions.
- Comparative fault rules. A potential defense in product liability claims is that the consumer was partially at fault for the harms, such as if the consumer used the item in a way that the manufacturer didn’t intend, resulting in injury. Florida obeys pure comparative fault rules. This means that a plaintiff may still recover damages even if he/she has a portion of fault for the incident. The courts will reduce the compensation award by an amount equivalent to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault in these cases.
Product liability claims are relatively straightforward in Fort Lauderdale. However, these claims can be difficult to prove. The defense may fight a suit by arguing another party modified the item or that the consumer misused it, causing the damages. The defendant could also argue the plaintiff knew about a product’s danger and used it anyway. Injured parties should always enlist help from attorneys for these types of claims in Florida.
Categories of Product Liability Lawsuits
In the realm of product liability law, there are three main forms of accepted lawsuits. To have grounds for a claim, the injured party must prove one or more of these three categories exist, making the item unsafe or dangerous for use. If the product that harmed or killed a loved one had one of these defects, it is likely a case deemed eligible to file a claim against the manufacturer or distributor:
- Inherently dangerous design. Some product designers create items that pose threats to safety by their very nature. Poorly designed items or those without proper safety testing can lead to defective and dangerous products. Manufacturers may issue recalls on these items but often not before they cause injuries and property damage. An example of a design defect is a fan with a safety guard that’s too wide, allowing a child to stick his/her fingers through.
- Manufacturing error. This type of defect occurs during the item’s assembly or manufacture. These products have safe and effective designs, but a mistake during manufacture makes them unsafe for use. Examples include a batch of cough syrup the distributor accidentally poisoned with a foreign substance or a seatbelt that’s missing a component. Manufacturing defects can occur at any point during the item’s creation or distribution.
- Marketing defect. A marketing defect is something that results in the innocent misuse of the product. Manufacturers must include proper instruction manuals and warnings of known hazards that might not be obvious to consumers, such as risk of electric shock in water or choking hazards for young children. Failure to include these warnings, leading to consumer injury or death, may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit.
Manufacturers may not recognize the dangers of an item until it’s too late and has already caused consumer damages. Recalls can complicate product liability claims in Fort Lauderdale. If a manufacturer issues a recall and injuries occur after the announcement, the plaintiff must prove he/she could not have reasonably been aware of the recall at the time of injury. The defendant could argue the plaintiff should have known about the risk and used the product anyway since it made the recall public or mailed a notice directly to the plaintiff.
What Can You Recover in a Product Liability Case?
After suffering injuries such as broken bones, lacerations, or burns from a defective product, you might not understand your legal opportunities in Fort Lauderdale, or how to fight for compensation. The attorneys at Kelley/Uustal are here to help you navigate these types of claims. We will listen to your story, investigate the product in question, and file a claim against the appropriate party or parties as appropriate. We’ve helped hundreds of clients go up against major manufacturing companies in the past, resulting in millions of dollars in insurance settlements and judgment awards. Let us help you fight for compensation for damages such as:
- Medical costs. The courts will always order reimbursement for medical costs associated with the defective product. These may include hospital stays, ambulatory fees, scans, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation expenses. The courts will compensate for past and future medical bills that result from the incident.
- Costs of disability. If the defective/dangerous product caused permanent injury, such as paralysis, amputation, or brain damage, you could recover for the costs of your disability. This may include medical bills, home or vehicle modifications, and live-in care.
- Lost income or ability to earn. In the event that your injuries prevent you from going to work or returning to your previous position, you could recover for these monetary losses. The courts may give an award for lost wages and earning capacity.
- Property damage. A plaintiff with expensive property damage, such as a totaled vehicle or house fire, could recover the costs to repair, rebuild, or replace the item from the party liable for the dangerous product.
- Pain and suffering. Fort Lauderdale victims can recover for non-economic damages like physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish that a defective product caused. There is no longer a cap on these damages after the Florida Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
- Lost enjoyment of life. This is another non-economic damage that often stems from debilitating injuries with permanent side effects. The courts can use a few different methods for calculating these types of damages, but they will typically multiply the amount of economic damages by a number that represents the extent of harm.
Contact Our Experienced Florida Product Liability Lawyer
Our team has won settlements for injuries resulting from defective and dangerous forklifts, floor tiles, tobacco products, prescription medications, vehicle parts, and more. We have what it takes to help you maximize your damage recovery. Whether you sustained your product-related injury at home, in the workplace, in a nursing home, or elsewhere in Fort Lauderdale, come to our local law office for high-quality legal assistance. We’re ready and waiting for your free case evaluation request. Call (954) 522-6601 today to get started with your product liability claim.