Fort Lauderdale Product Liability Attorneys
Personal injury lawyers representing Broward County, Florida
Every year in the U.S., thousands of people suffer injuries due to dangerous and defective products. Unlike other personal injuries, damages that are caused by the use of a defective or dangerous product are covered by a unique set of laws. In these cases, responsibility may lie with any seller within the distribution chain. Applicable legal theories and statutes of limitation also differ when comparing general personal injury law to product liability, so it’s best to consult with a Fort Lauderdale product liability lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
Who is responsible?
In a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff’s case is based on the assertion that a product’s manufacturer, distributor, or seller is liable for the plaintiff’s injury. Broward County courts typically assess liability through two lenses: the characteristics of the product itself and the actions of the manufacturer, seller, and distributor. To establish strict liability, the plaintiff must prove the product was defective in a manner that caused an unreasonably dangerous condition.
A product defect may arise from the product’s design, the way it is manufactured, and/or the way in which the product is marketed. The design of a product is defective if the product is exactly as the manufacturer intended; however, the intended design creates a dangerous condition. A design creates an unreasonably dangerous if it results in an end product that fails to perform as safely as a customer would reasonably expect when using the product as intended or when the product is used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
If a product has a manufacturing defect, the plaintiff must establish that although the original design may have been safe, an error in the manufacturing process caused the plaintiff to receive a product that created a dangerous condition. The manufacturer is liable if the plaintiff was injured while using the product for its intended purpose at the time of injury.
The manufacturer and other parties within the supply chain may be held responsible for a marketing defect. A distributor may be liable if adequate safety warnings were not issued for a product that was otherwise properly designed and manufactured. The plaintiff must establish that the product posed a foreseeable risk of harm and that the issuance of a warning may have eliminated or reduced the risk of harm. Moreover, the plaintiff must prove the failure to issue a warning regarding the risk made use of the product unreasonably dangerous.
Florida courts apply the pure comparative negligence rule, under which a plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s degree of fault. If a plaintiff is found to be 10 percent at fault for his or her injury, the plaintiff may still receive compensation; however, the reward amount would be reduced by 10 percent to reflect the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Nevertheless, plaintiffs in product liability cases have the potential to receive very large judgments. Claimants have received more than $20,000,000 in judgments and settlements for eight separate injuries in wood chipper-related accidents.
Statutes of limitations
In product liability cases, Broward County plaintiffs must file a lawsuit within four years. An exception exists for cases involving wrongful death, which must be filed within two years. Courts also apply the discovery rule to these cases; therefore, the statute of limitations is applied to the date the facts giving rise to the legal claim were actually discovered or should have reasonably been discovered by the plaintiff. Florida courts may also apply the statute of repose, which may bar a plaintiff’s claim if injury occurred while the product was being used beyond its intended lifespan of usefulness.
Product liability law is intended to keep everyday people safe as we regularly interact with a variety of products throughout each day. In Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in Florida, the laws governing related cases are very complex; therefore, individuals who suspect they have been injured by a defective product should contact a Florida product liability lawyer upon discovery of the injury. Consultations are free and may help the accident victim receive the compensation he or she deserves.