Products liability is an area of law that covers defective consumer products. When you are injured by a defective product, you have more options that simply requesting a refund. The manufacturer and sometimes the retailer will be responsible for any injuries caused by a malfunctioning product. When you purchase a product at the store, you expect it to do what it is intended to do, whether that is to entertain you or provide some sort of service. Often times, products do not function as intended. The device may cause a fire, act as a choking hazard for a small child or cause an allergic reaction.
Manufacturers must undergo a rigorous series of tests and approvals before submitting products to the market. Products will be tested for potential malfunctions, and if a defect becomes apparent, the manufacturer is tasked with either fixing the defect or scrapping the project altogether. Sadly, in pursuit of profits, many manufacturers push defective products through to distribution. In the famous case of the Ford Pinto, Ford was aware of a defect to the fuel system that could cause explosions, resulting in injuries and death. Ford did a cost-benefit analysis and determined that it would profit more from selling the defective car and settling any claims than from paying to fix the fuel system. When explosions did later happen, Ford readily settled with plaintiffs seeking compensation. These faulty Pintos were defective products under the product liability system.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, you need an experienced product injury lawyer that you can rely on and trust. Kaiser Romanello has been serving product liability clients in South Florida for years. If you believe you have a product liability claim, contact Kaiser Romanello to schedule a free consultation.
TYPES OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS
There are three types of defects:
- Manufacturing defects
- Marketing defects
- Design defects
Manufacturing defects occur when unintended issues happen with the product. For instance, a bookcase’s shelves are not adequately secured, caused the shelves to fall when weight is placed on them. Marketing defects occur when the product is not properly marketed. For example, a toy fails to warn of a choking hazard for children under 3. Finally, a design defect occurs when the product design itself is flawed. For instance, the Ford Pinto’s fuel system was prone to explosions.
PROVING YOUR CASE
Differentiating between manufacturing defect and design defect can be extremely confusing, especially when you do not have access to the manufacturer’s records. An experienced product liability lawyer can assist you with obtaining and reviewing the manufacturer’s plan to see if the product was built according to plan. If it was, the defect is likely a design defect. Often times, design defects are intentional. Either the manufacturer does a cost-benefit analysis like Ford did and determines it is profitable to sell a defective product or the manufacturer simply hopes that no one will notice the issue.
Products liability is separate from negligence. Products liability is generally a strict liability law. Strict liability means that the manufacturer’s knowledge or intent is of no importance. For instance, even if the manufacturer conducted a series of tests and even obtained approval for sale, it will still be strictly liable for any design defects. The public policy reasoning behind strict liability for defective products is to encourage manufacturers to invest further in constructing safe products. While this usually results in higher prices, Florida courts believe that consumers will be willing to pay more in order to be safe. In addition, strict liability lawsuits are less costly than their negligence counterparts because there is no grappling over fault.
You must act fast in filing your case because you only have 4 years from the date of your injury under the statute of limitations for products liability.
Often, defective products cause debilitating and serious injuries and damage. Because products liability is a strict liability statute, the bulk of your case will be focused on proving damages. The manufacturer may be liable for:
- Lost past and future wages
- Medical bills
- Payment for future medical services, such as prescriptions, therapy, and surgery
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
If a loved one died due to a defective product, your case becomes a wrongful death case.
SEEK GUIDANCE FROM OUR SKILLED SOUTH FLORIDA PRODUCTS LIABILITY LAWYERS
After a defective product accident, the first thing you should do is call a trusted and knowledgeable products liability lawyer. Kaiser Romanello can coach you through the process by examining the defective product, investigating your case, explaining your legal options, and pursuing your claims. To schedule a free consultation at our Parkland, Florida office, contact Kaiser Romanello today.