Defective Product Lawyers Fort Lauderdale
Palm Beach County, FL Defective Product Lawyers Fighting for Client’s Rights Across Florida
All of us rely upon consumer products to conduct our daily lives. From our cars to our medications to the food we eat, we expect the products that we use to be safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. At times, corporations and businesses may cut corners when testing whether their products are safe for the general public in order to maximize their own profit margins. When this happens, consumer products that we think are safe for everyday use can cause illness, injury, or even death. We handle defective products cases caused by products that you may be surprised to learn that you use every day, including:
- Car seats,
- Prescription medications,
- Medical devices,
- And more.
Needless to say, hidden dangers in these types of everyday products are unacceptable. Designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors have a responsibility to maintain a reasonable standard of safety for their products. If they do not meet this standard, it may be possible to hold them liable for any harm caused by defects.
At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we believe that it is important to hold individuals and corporations financially and publicly responsible for problems related to defective products that cause harm to their consumers. A defective products lawsuit can both help you in your own recovery by providing financial compensation that can cover expenses relating to the injury, and in many cases, a defective products lawsuit can even force organizations to recall and fix dangerous products so that no one else is harmed.
Naturally, corporations do not want to admit that any of their products are defective, so they will fight tooth and nail against such defective products lawsuit. This is where the skilled defective products lawyers at Lawlor, White & Murphey come in. Our lawyers have over 55 years of combined experience successfully handling injury cases caused by defective products, and we are not at all afraid of standing up to giant corporations or going to trial if we believe that is the best course of action in your case.
Basic Legal Theories of Recovery in a Florida Defective Products Case
Usually, defective product lawsuits are based on a claim of negligence or strict liability. If you believe you have been wronged by a company, our expert legal team will be able to help you decide which of the following theories of recovery best suits your situation:
- Negligence. In a negligence case, the person who suffered damages must prove that the company or individual being sued failed to exercise a reasonable level of care to prevent others from being harmed by the product. In a product liability suit, the plaintiff claims that a manufacturer or seller was negligent in producing or marketing their product. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the resulting injury.
- Strict Liability. Strict Liability is a legal theory that allows the plaintiff to recover damages without proving that the defendant was careless or negligent. In other words, if a company has placed a dangerous product on the market and it has resulted in injury, that alone will be sufficient for the court to rule in favor of the plaintiff.
Defective Product Cases Involving Failure to Warn or Breach of Warranty Claims
Manufacturers and designers have a legal duty to ensure that the products they sell to the public are reasonably safe for their intended use. Within this general rule lies the premise that the products are intended to be used for something—in other words, the manufacturer promises, or “warrants”, that the product will be safe for that use. Defective products lawsuits may also be based on a claim that this warranty was breached in some way, in that manufacturer is in breach of their contract with the purchaser because they produced or sold goods that were not fit for their intended use. These cases proceed along one of several lines:
- Express warranty cases. An express warranty is any verbal or written statement made by the company—or any liable party—about the product and/or its safety.
- Implied warranty cases. An implied warranty involves examining how well a product does its intended job, based on the reasonable standards of other similar products.
- Fraud or misrepresentation. These cases generally involve false advertising, and are similar to breach of warranty cases in that the manufacturer or some other entity has misrepresented what the product should do.
Another basis for a product liability claim is “failure to warn.” When companies fail to apply the proper warning labels to products, customers can be unaware of the potential risks involved in using the product—risks that may exist even if the product is used as intended. Both product manufacturers and the actual retailer may be held responsible if they fail to warn customers adequately and that failure to warn leads to injury.
According to the American National Standards Institute—the organization responsible for regulating safety warning labels, signs, and guidelines—there are standards that must all be met in order to sell a product. A warning label must:
- Inform the consumer of existing hazards,
- Describe the level of risk associated with the product,
- Outline the potential effects of the hazard, and
- Outline potential ways to avoid any danger during use of the product.
If a warning label fails to accurately and clearly outline the potential hazards of a product, this may be the basis for a product liability case. In some cases, however, products must be dangerous in order to perform their intended use. For example, all guns, blowtorches, and chainsaws should reasonably be expected to be dangerous if used improperly—or even properly in some cases. Companies are not responsible for warning users of the obvious dangers in these products. If a particular product has unique or unusual potential hazards associated with it, however, companies must inform consumers of that risk.
Manufacturing Defects vs. Design Defects in Florida Products Liability Cases
Product defect cases must also identify the type of defect in the product that caused the injury. Defects in products are commonly classified as either:
- Manufacturing defects. These are problems that occur during assembly, and are usually not intended to be part of the design of the product. Typically, this group represents a small percentage of the products produced by a company. The company in charge of assembling or building the product (the manufacturer) is likely the party that would be held responsible in this situation. To effectively argue that a product defect was a manufacturing defect, the plaintiff and his or her legal team must prove that the flaw was present before the product left the manufacturer.
- Design defects. A design defect is a flaw in the original blueprint of a product that causes it to become unreasonably dangerous to anyone who might use it. In most cases, this design flaw will be found in all the products in a particular line. The goal in these cases is to prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous before it was placed into production. A case may also be premised upon the company’s negligence by proving that, by exercising reasonable precautions, the company could have predicted the danger.
Contact Our Dedicated Team of Injury Attorneys to Discuss Your Defective Products Case and Help Keep South Florida Safe
If you or someone you love has been a victim of a defective product, it is crucial to take steps to preserve potential evidence of that defect, including:
- The product itself,
- Any packaging that came with the product,
- Instruction manuals or assembly directions,
- Medical records relating to your injury,
- Photographs of the injury,
- Photographs of the product if possible.
Product liability claims are usually complicated by the fact that many different parties are involved in bringing a product to a consumer. Defects may be a result of flaws in design, manufacturing, transporting, and/or selling of a product. To give yourself the best possible chance of success, retain the legal assistance of our dedicated injury lawyers, who will put our in-depth understanding of this intricate area of the law to work in your case.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Our Nationally-Recognized Defective Product Lawyers Today
Our attorneys have been recognized for their accomplishments by Super Lawyers and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and all of them have superb Avvo ratings. Most importantly, though, we truly care about their clients and making our South Florida community as safe as possible for everyone. To explore available options for recovering compensation in your defective products case, fill out this online contact form and our lawyers will respond promptly to your inquiry. We provide all of our potential clients with a free initial consultation, and we work on a contingency basis so that you take on no financial risk by letting us help you pursue a defective products case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Defective Products Cases
There are three primary types of defective product or product liability claims. The first is a design defect claim, which alleges that the product was not properly designed or tested, such that all examples of the product will be defective and/or dangerous. The second type of claim is a manufacturing defect claim, which alleges that a problem occurred when the particular example of the product was being made; a manufacturing defect can impact only one example of a product or can extend to a whole production run of the product. The third type of claim is a failure to warn claim, also called a marketing defect claim; this claim alleges that the instructions and warnings provided with the product were insufficient to instruct consumers how to safely use the product.
Under current product liability laws, any party that is within a defective product’s chain of distribution can be held liable for an injury caused by the defective product. These parties include the manufacturer of the product, the manufacturer of any parts used in the product, the party that was responsible for assembling or installing the product, the wholesaler of the product, and the retailer of the product who sold the product to its intended user.
In order to win a defective product case, it is necessary to prove either that a party in the chain of distribution of the product was negligent with respect to a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect, or that an alleged design, manufacturing, or marketing defect was unreasonably dangerous, regardless of the responsible party’s conduct (negligent or not).
Under Florida law, if you are injured by a defective product, you have four years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. If a loved one is killed by a defective product, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s injury and death to file a wrongful death claim. Finally, as a general rule, no defective product claim can be filed more than 12 years after the allegedly defective product is delivered to its first purchaser.
The amount of compensation you may be entitled to receive can be limited by law. If your damages are limited solely to the loss of the value of the alleged defective product, you may be barred from compensation under Florida’s economic loss rule. To avoid the rule, you must have suffered damages other than an “economic loss”, such as medical expenses to treat injuries caused by a defective product or damage to other property caused by the defective product.
Who determines whether a product is defective will depend on how far your defective product claim gets. If you are merely negotiating a settlement with the product’s manufacturer or retailer, that party may accept liability by agreeing with you that your product has suffered some defect. In some cases, you may be required to arbitrate your defective product claim; an arbitration is like a trial, except that the decision is made by a neutral party called an arbitration. Finally, if you decide to file a lawsuit to pursue your defective product claim, whether or not your product is defective will be decided by a judge or a jury.
Examples of damages that you may be entitled to in a defective product claim include medical expenses to treat injuries that you suffered, compensation to repair or replace property that may have been damaged by the defective product, lost wages or lost earning capacity if you are forced to miss work or leave your job due to injuries that you suffered, damages for pain and suffering or for loss of quality of life that you have endured, and compensation for your spouse and immediate family members for any loss of your companionship and society.
Not necessarily. Although it is possible to succeed in a defective product claim by proving that the product was negligently designed or manufacturer or that the product’s manufacturer or seller negligently failed to provide adequate instructions and warnings, it is also possible to succeed in what is known as a strict product liability claim. To succeed in a strict product liability claim, you must prove that the product was in an unreasonably dangerous condition due to a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect, regardless of the actions of the product’s manufacturer or seller.
Although it is not required to hire an attorney to file a defective product claim, it is highly advisable to do so. Defective product claims are highly factually and legally complex endeavors. An experienced defective product attorney can help you to build a strong, persuasive legal strategy that gives you the best chance of success for recovering compensation for your injuries and damages. An attorney can work with experts to be able to advise you as to whether you have a viable strict product liability claim or a negligence claim and advise you whether the product that injured you suffers from a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect.
In some cases, it may be possible for a person injured by a defective product to hire a lawyer with no up-front cost. An attorney may be able to represent an injured person in a defective product claim pursuant to a contingency agreement. This means that the injured party owes the lawyer no money unless and until the lawyer is able to obtain financial compensation for the injured party. The lawyer is then typically paid a percentage of the total financial recovery the attorney obtains for the injured party and his or her family.
Comparative negligence is a legal theory that limits the victim’s right to compensation if that person was also negligent in causing the accident and injuries. Under Florida law, however, if this is the case, the law may still hold the defendant accountable. Comparative negligence rules essentially divide the responsibility for the accident between the plaintiff and the defendant. If the court believes that you are partially to blame for an accident, they may only award you a portion of the damages because of that fact. For example, if the court decided the plaintiff and defendant are equally to blame for the damages, the plaintiff would only receive 50 percent of the compensation award to which he or she would otherwise be entitled.
Our defective products lawyers have significant resources at our disposal and are well-equipped to investigate your case to determine how the product caused your injuries. We can consult with experts in the field to gather evidence establishing that the product was unreasonably safe, and we will also investigate to see if any other consumers have experienced similar problems in using the product. All cases are unique, but our lawyers have the experience necessary to evaluate the facts of your case and determine how to best proceed.