Florida consumers are injured by faulty products every day. These products may be prescription drugs, household appliances, or construction equipment. Injuries are often severe and can result in death. When evaluating a case involving a product, the basis of fault must be considered by a Florida personal injury lawyer.
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent and that the negligence caused the injury. The elements for a claim of negligence are a duty of care owed by the defendant to the injured party; a breach or violation of that duty by the defendant; injury caused by the breach and damages. Generally, there must be a relationship between the injured party and the defendant or a general duty to the public that is breached by the defendant (e.g.- careless driving that causes a crash).
In a product liability case, the breach of duty is likely to be a failure to design a safe product, failure to manufacture a safe product (a manufacturing error), failure to inspect a product for a dangerous condition or failure to test or adequately test the product. Failure to warn is also an important aspect in proving negligence.
Florida adopted strict liability for products cases in the case of West v Caterpillar in 1976. Under this theory, the manufacturer or seller of a defective product can be liable even if its exercised all possible care. To recover under this theory, it must be proven that a defect was present in the product at the time the defendant parted possession and the defect caused the injury.
To recover the plaintiff does not have to prove the manufacturer dangerously designed, manufactured, tested, marketed, or warned about the product. The plaintiff simply must prove it was defective and unreasonably dangerous. This theory focuses more on the product than the actions of the manufacturer or seller. Often all the injured party has to prove is that the product did not perform as expected and caused an injury.
In such cases, the plaintiff will sue under allegations of negligence and strict products liability. Both theories have defenses that must be evaluated by an experienced trial lawyer.
The Role of the Trial Lawyer
In all product cases, there are complicated factual and legal issues. Often both parties will need to hire multiple experts to explain the problems of the product, and why it caused the injury:
- The standards for expert testimony are complicated and often change, so the trial lawyer should be familiar with the laws of evidence.
- The defendant manufacturer may be located out of state and even out of the country. This can present complicated jurisdictional and other legal issues that must be evaluated.
- Choice of laws issues may affect recovery.
- Finally, the statute of limitations may be affected by where the injury occurred. Normally, in product cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when it is known or should be known when the product caused the injury. Often that is not apparent. However, there is a “statute of repose” that cuts off claims after a certain date even if the injured party did not find out the cause until much later.
As you can see product cases required much complicated legal analysis. Simply alleging “strict liability” is not enough in most cases. You need an expert civil trial lawyer to evaluate and handle your claim.
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’ve been the victim of a faulty product, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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 for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.