Manufacturers and designers have a responsibility to ensure that the products they produce are safe for consumers to use. Unfortunately, cell phone batteries, car airbags, and many other products can be dangerously defective, causing significant injuries to consumers across the state of Florida.
When you or someone you love is injured by a faulty product, you have the right to seek legal compensation for damages caused. But the question remains: when can you sue a manufacturer for a defective product? At Friedman & Friedman, we have over 40 years of experience winning product liability cases for clients across Florida. So today, let’s review how this type of lawsuit works—and the steps you’ll need to take to win your own product liability case.
When a victim is injured by a defective product in Florida, the courts will categorize the case as one of the following: negligence, product liability, or breach of warranty. Negligence focuses on the actions of the manufacturer, distributor, or seller. Product liability focuses on the product itself. And finally, breach of warranty applies to cases where a product is guaranteed to perform in a certain way (or up to a certain standard) but fails. There are also unique elements that must be proven for each type of case.
When negligence is involved, the following elements must be proven:
All manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are expected to sell products that perform as expected—and meet a certain standard of quality. When this doesn’t happen, it is considered a breach of warranty. Warranties typically fall under one of three types: express warranty, implied warranty of merchantability, and implied warranty of fitness.
Express warranty – This type of warranty relates to a promise the seller makes guaranteeing that a product will perform in a certain way.
Implied warranty of merchantability – This type of warranty is a guarantee that the product does not have design defects, manufacturing defects, or improper labels.
Implied warranty of fitness – This type of warranty relates to cases where a buyer requests a product for a particular purpose, and the seller supplies an inappropriate product for that purpose.
Product liability operates under strict liability. This means that as long as the plaintiff can prove the product was defective, the defendant’s intent does not matter. Under Florida law, claims will fall under one of three categories: design defect, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn.
The first type of product liability claim is known as a design defect. Rather than basing a claim off of a manufacturing error, this type of case alleges that the design of a product makes it unsafe for its intended use. In the state of Florida, a consumer expectation test is used to determine whether a product is unsafe. If a product fails to perform as safely as a reasonable consumer would expect, then it is considered dangerous.
A manufacturing defect claim arises when products are compromised during the manufacturing process. If a product with manufacturing defects causes injury to the intended user, then the manufacturer can be held liable. Manufacturing defect claims can be difficult to prove in court because they usually involve a limited number of products, unlike design or warning defects.
Also called marketing defects, this type of product liability claim involves a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about a product’s proper use. These types of claims usually involve a product that is dangerous in a way that isn’t obvious to the user.
In the state of Florida, cases involving product liability must be filed within four years after the cause of action occurred. In most cases, the cause of action usually occurs when the plaintiff discovers that their injuries were a result of a defective product. In the case of a product that has a life expectancy of 10 years or less, you are unable to file a lawsuit if the injury occurred more than 12 years after delivery of the product to its first purchaser. This is known as a statute of repose.
If you or a loved one were injured by a defective product and need help pursuing justice, be sure to connect with Friedman & Friedman immediately. Our team has decades of experience winning product liability cases across the state of Florida, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. As your legal ally, we will be unrelenting in the pursuit of your goals—and the financial compensation you deserve.
You can also contact us if you have other questions about suing for defective product injuries in Florida. We’re happy to help.