Tag Archives: board certified civil trial attorney

Proving Strict Products Liability In Florida

Florida tort law provides that a manufacturer of a defective product may be subject to product liability under two basic theories.

First, strict liability, and second, negligence.

In order to win under either theory, the plaintiff must establish that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous. 

Under a negligence theory, proof of a defect determines a breach of the duty, and the mere presence of a defective condition proves your case under strict liability.

 

What Is The Florida Product Liability Statute?

According to Florida 2021 Statutes 768.81(1)(d), “products liability action means a civil action based upon a theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or similar theories for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”

Proving A Claim Under Strict Liability

So, pursuing a manufacturer of a product is easier on the plaintiff if they can prove a claim under strict liability since the plaintiff is not required to provide a duty and a breach of the duty. The basis of strict liability laws is that the State of Florida realizes that a consumer will not have access to private corporate manufacturing information before a lawsuit is filed and will have a difficult time establishing negligence. However, with the product itself, the injured party has the ability to examine the product and determine whether it is defective or not.

Strict Liability Theories

Strict liability theories are generally distinct from negligence as they remove the burden from the injured party to prove specific acts of negligence. Even though the term “strict liability” indicates some “automatic” or absolute liability for any use of its product, the manufacturer of a product is only responsible for injuries caused when the product is being used as it was intended.

Hence, in order for strict liability to apply to a manufacturer, the product must have been used for the purpose for which it was intended.

For example, a power drill that causes an injury cannot be said to be subject to strict liability if the injury occurred while using the drill as a weapon or as a blender in the kitchen. Those uses are different from the intended use of a drill, like screwing in fasteners or drilling holes for carpentry work.

Defective Airbag Example: 

What If the Airbags Didn’t Work During My Car Accident?

Strict Products LiabilityA typical car accident case is pretty straightforward: one driver is speeding, running a red light, or doing something else to cause a crash, and any person injured in the accident sues that driver or makes a claim with that driver’s car insurance company. But sometimes, these cases can get a little more complicated, and they become something more, something bigger, than a car accident case. One such instance is when an airbag does not deploy properly during a car accident, resulting in injuries that are more severe than they might have been if the airbag had done its job. The injured person may now have a product liability case on top of an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Proving Strict Liability

Since any product can be misused, a manufacturer cannot be held responsible and liable for every possible creative misuse that a consumer can conceive. Product liability does not make the manufacturer an insurer of all foreseeable accidents that involve its product. In order to have a successful product liability claim, the product must be defective in its design, manufacture, or lack adequate warnings. Further, any one of these items must render the product unreasonable, dangerous, or defective, and then the use that caused the injury must be an intended use.

Consumer Expectation Test

Strict Liability focuses on the reasonable expectations of the consumer. The test for design defects is called a “consumer expectation test” and makes a product defective if the plaintiff is able to demonstrate that the product did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in the intended fashion or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.

Design And Manufacturer Defects

Strict liability claims based upon manufacturing defects are all about whether the product was made in a way that is not consistent with its design. In other words, there was an error in the manufacturing process and quality control process that allowed for a product that was not made pursuant to the design specifications, and this defect made the product defective in its ordinary usage.

Inadequate Warnings

Products Liability In FloridaStrict liability claims based upon inadequate warnings are premised on a failure of the company to warn. Florida courts have recognized that a warning should contain some wording directed to the significant dangers arising from the failure to use the product in the prescribed manner, such as the risk of serious injury or death. 

A product is considered defective from a warning standpoint in Florida when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings and their omission renders the product not reasonably safe.

Proving The Four Elements

On the negligence theory of products liability cases, the injured party must prove four elements. First, the manufacturer must be under a duty that requires them to protect others from unreasonable risks. Second, the plaintiff must prove that this duty was breached by the company. Third, there must be legal causation between the breach and the injury; and finally, the injured party must have injury or loss.

Statute Of Limitations

The Florida statute of limitations for product liability extends four years from the date injury the injury occurred. If the defect and accident results in a wrongful death claim, that statute is shortened to two years.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a product and you seek out answers related to whether a claim of products liability can be brought and won, you can reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a product and you seek out answers related to whether a claim of products liability can be brought and won, you can reach out to our firm for a free consultation. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/products_liability

Keywords

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/damages

https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/types-of-personal-injury-claims/what-if-the-airbags-didnt-work-during-my-car-accident.html

Jury Duty: A New Perspective – An Honor, Not a Burden.

The Jury Duty Misconception.
I had only been summoned for jury duty once, and it was right near the holidays a few years ago and in the middle of a couple of major deadlines. Needless to say I was irritated having to waste my Monday waiting around in a room with at least 200 of my fellow citizens feeling the same way. We were all trying to continue working in some capacity with all of our mobile devices. I did not get chosen to serve on a jury…. didn’t even make it to the first round of jury selection and was relieved to be back at work by noon.

Part of the Bigger Picture.
I work in a personal injury law firm, Zarzaur Law, PA, here in Pensacola, Florida. I have learned a lot about the law in the year and half I have been here, especially, the process and the time it takes to prepare for a case to go to trial. Prior to working at Zarzaur Law P.A. as the marketing manager, I worked in an ad agency…so I did not have a lot of exposure to law firms. I am fortunate to work for Joe Zarzaur, an award-winning board certified civil trial lawyer, who is a part of only 1% of lawyers in the state of Florida with these credentials.

Call it coincidence or perpetuity, but I received a jury summons as an employee at Zarzaur Law, PA. At first I thought this to be another burden, but then realized that I am getting to be a part of the judicial process. Since my job at the firm does not involve the practice of law, I was interested in being a part of the process.

A New Perspective.
We all started sitting in a very large room where Pam Childers welcomed us and proceeded to have us take the oath. We were informed that all cases on the docket that week were criminal cases. Ms. Childers then went on to explain our obligation as a citizen of our state and our country. Our form of government calls us to service as be a part of the judicial process. It is important for us to be here to keep the process moving forward. We are helping the court fulfill its responsibilities and maintain our rights for due process. This is our judicial system to help resolve disputes. Cases can be resolved even while we wait and we are here willing to take time to participate in this democratic process. I never realized that some cases do get settled prior to going to jury, just because of our presence.

The Juror’s Role.
Our role as jurors is to provide a fair, impartial and just decision based on facts received in case. All of this was certainly providing me an education first hand at what my firm does and must be prepared for. The amount of time and evidence that must be prepared is substantial. Also … it’s not like the TV show Law and Order – cases and trials could take as long as 6 months to a year to get on the docket. This is why having full juries are so important. We are final authorities on the facts, judge has final authority in the law.

It felt overwhelming but exciting. You are no longer watching TV, this is real life. A big responsibility is expected of you, and I felt honored to be chosen. The experience is humbling, intimidating and empowering all at the same time. Judge and lawyers and defendant asking questions and awaiting to see who will be the panel to hear the case, weigh the facts and provide the verdict. We hold the power of democracy and fairness in our hands. We decide the fate of a person who is considered innocent until proven guilty. We actively uphold the law and its ability to help keep our country free from minority tyranny.

A Rewarding Experience.
While I was not chosen for the case, it was an unbelievable experience. I was actually disappointed not to be chosen. I just hope those that served on this jury were fair and in the end made the decision that is based on the facts.

Jurors perform a vital role in the American system of justice. … Jury service is a high duty of citizenship. Jurors aid in the maintenance of law and order and uphold justice among their fellow citizens. Their greatest reward is the knowledge that they have discharged this duty faithfully, honorably, and well. Jurors perform a vital role in the American system of justice. The protection of our rights and liberties is largely achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury who, working together in a common effort, put into practice the principles of our great heritage of freedom. The judge determines the law to be applied in the case while the jury decides the facts. Thus, in a very important way, jurors become a part of the court itself.

I challenge you to re-think jury duty the next time you receive your summons and not look at it as a burden, but as an honor and a right as a part of our Democratic society.

As one of the leading personal injury lawyers in Pensacola, Florida, Joe Zarzaur has dedicated his life to helping car wreck victims protect their rights. One major way that Personal Injury Law Firm, Zarzaur Law achieves this mission is by fighting extremely hard for the clients he represents. But a second and equally important component of Zarzaur Law Firm’s work is providing the community with the resources they need to keep themselves protected.

Read more:
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/juryseminar/EvolutionJury.html

Juries – Modern Juries – Jury, Court, Civil, and Trial – JRank Articles http://law.jrank.org/pages/22535/Juries-Modern-Juries.html#ixzz4yLbXuRNE

https://www.mow.uscourts.gov/jury/history_of_jury_duty

Back To School and Bus Stop Safety – Do You Know the Golden Rules?

Florida school buses carry precious cargo – our children. Most motorists drive with caution around school buses and at school bus stops and school zones, but accidents do happen and children walking or riding bikes can be unpredictable, so motorists must always be alert.

ZL_blog_SCHOOL_BUS_SAFETY
School Bus Safety: Are you following the golden rules?

However, statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicate the amount of school bus accidents in Florida is on the rise. From 2012 to 2015, there has been a 16 percent increase in school bus-related accidents throughout the state. Just in the year 2015 alone, there were a reported 2,698 school bus accidents in Florida.

Not only are there accidents when on the bus, but also at the bus stop itself. There have been reported injuries and deaths during loading and unloading of school buses. The National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey is produced annually by the Kansas Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. The survey does not count onboard fatalities. The eight fatalities during the 2016-17 school year were evenly split between girls and boys. Five of the children killed were six or seven years old. One was nine, one was 11 and one was 16. Three students were killed as they crossed the street to board their buses, which had not yet come to a complete stop but were displaying eight-way yellow lights. Three others were struck and killed by passing motorists who illegally ignored a stopped school bus’ extended stop arm and flashing red lights.

School Transportation News (STN) records indicate that four additional student pedestrians were killed last school year in incidents that involved school buses but not during the loading or unloading process. Three students were hit by a school bus as they were walking on or near roads, and another student was struck by a motorist after the school bus had already dropped him off at a stop and left the area.

“Fatalities—which are caused by a variety of circumstances and errors by passing motorists and school bus driver—continue to take place,” the survey introduction read in part. “This shows the continuing need for forceful, advanced instruction to school bus drivers and students, as well as the need to increase our efforts to thoroughly inform drivers across the country about the requirements of the school bus stop law.”

On average, nearly nine students died while loading or unloading the school bus over the past 10 years.

School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists
• Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots.

• Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas.

• Pay extra attention to lower speed limits in school zones.
Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.

• Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.

• Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. (See the different situations in the diagram below)

• All drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn. (see diagram, TWO-LANE)

• On a highway divided by a paved median, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn. (see diagram, MULTI-LANE)

• The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. (see diagram, DIVIDED HIGHWAY)

• On a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least 5 feet wide, drivers moving in the opposite direction do not have to stop for the bus (painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers). However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus. (see diagram, DIVIDED HIGHWAY)

School_buses-03-01-1024x691
Stopped school bus rules and safety tips.

Penalties for passing stopped school bus include:
• Moving violation subject to citation;
• Requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course upon conviction;
• Four points on your driver license; and
• Minimum fine of $165, if you pass on the side where children enter and exit, you will receive a minimum fine of $265.

On July 1, 2017, the Cameron Mayhew Act took effect in Florida, which increases the minimum penalty for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus, resulting in the injury or death of another person. Cameron Mayhew was killed by a motorist that failed to stop as he was walking to his stopped school bus in 2016.
Penalties for passing a stopped school bus that causes or results in the serious bodily injury or the death of another person include:
• Serving 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital;
• Participating in a victim’s impact panel session, or if such a panel does not exist, attending a DHSMV approved driver improvement course;
• Six points on your driver license;
• Suspension of license for a minimum of one year; and
• $1,500 fine.

Our Children’s Safety Comes First!
With all of the distractions around them, it’s easy to visualize a child stepping off of the bus and not being able to hear or notice oncoming traffic. We are the adults; it is our job to abide by the laws put in place, not be in a hurry, or be distracted.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If your child has been injured at a school bus stop or on a school bus due to negligence of a motorist, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

References:

https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/child-safety/school-bus-safety/

https://www.idrivesafely.com/traffic-school/florida/school-bus-stop-law/

http://www.fldoe.org/schools/healthy-schools/transportation/

http://spacecoastdaily.com/2018/08/back-to-school-traffic-safety-tips-by-florida-department-of-transportation/

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/1622/BillText/__/HTML