We rely on consumer products to conduct our daily life. From our cars to our medications to the food we eat, we expect the products 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. When this happens, products have been known to cause illness, injury, or even death.
Needless to say, this is not okay. 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 organizations responsible for problems related to defective products if you are harmed. Not only can such a lawsuit help you in your own recovery by paying for things like medical treatment, but often cases like these 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 a suit. That is where we come in. Our lawyers have over 55 years of combined experience successfully handling injury cases like these, and we are not at all afraid of standing up to giant companies or going to trial if we believe that is the best course of action in your 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 these claims 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 take a reasonable amount of care. 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 them 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.
In some cases, there may be a question as to whether the plaintiff was negligent in some way. Even if this is the case, the law may still hold the defendant accountable. This is called “comparative negligence,” and it divides 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. For example, if the court decided the plaintiff and defendant were of equal blame for the damages, the plaintiff would only receive 50% of the damages.
Breach of warranty. Lawsuits may also be based on a claim of breach of warranty. This legal theory claims that a manufacturer is in breach of their contract with the purchaser because they produced or sold goods that were not fit for their intended use. This could be an “express warranty” or an “implied warranty.” An express warranty is any verbal or written statement made by the company—or any liable party—about the product and/or its safety. An implied warranty is how well a product does its intended job, based on the reasonable standards of other similar products.
Along with breach of warranty, consumers can claim “fraud or misrepresentation” in a lawsuit. Fraud or misrepresentation is a legal claim used to target false advertising that misrepresents a product.
Failure to warn and types of warning labels. 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 of use. From the manufacturer to the retailer, any party may be held responsible if they fail to warn customers adequately and this 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 should inform the consumer of existing hazards as well as the level of risk associated with the product. The label should also inform the consumer of the effects of the hazard, as well as the best possible way 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.
Sometimes, products must be dangerous in order to perform their intended use. For example, all guns, blowtorches, and chainsaws can be reasonably expected to be dangerous if used improperly. Companies are not liable to warn 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.
When arguing that a product is defective, there are a couple of different types of defects a plaintiff might base this claim on. One type is called a “manufacturing defect,” and the other is referred to as a “design defect.”
Manufacturing defects are problems that occur during assembly, and are 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.
The second type of defect is a design defect. 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 plaintiff will try to prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous before it was placed into production. A case may also be built if the company was negligent, and a reasonable amount of foresight could have predicted future issues with the product.
If you believe that you or someone you love has been a victim of a defective product, it is crucial that you save as much evidence as possible. The product itself should be kept as evidence, in addition to any relevant health information from the injury. This might include hospital bills, doctor’s notes, or photographs of injuries. But doing things on your own is not enough.
Product liability claims can be complex. Many 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, you need a team of dedicated injury lawyers with an in-depth understanding of this area of the law.
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, they truly care about their clients and making our South Florida community as safe as possible for everyone. To see if you have a case, get in contact with us by filling out our convenient online case evaluation for a free consultation, send an email, or give us a call:
954-525-2345 (South Florida)
855-347-5475 (Toll Free)