Defective Products Hurt Too Many Floridians
When you buy a product from a company, you should be able to do so with the confidence that it has been manufactured with your safety and satisfaction in mind. But it’s one thing when your car keeps breaking down and quite another when you or someone you love is catastrophically injured or killed in a Florida auto accident because of a flaw in the product’s design. No one should ever have to suffer from something like this due to a company’s negligence, and you owe it to yourself to get the compensation you deserve by working with an experienced and knowledgeable product liability lawyer.
What Kinds of Products Can Harm Floridians?
All kinds. If it’s made by a company, it’s possible that there will be a defect that can cause harm to consumers. This is true regardless of who the product is created for (men, women, children, the elderly) or its intended use. There are far too many defective products out there to put together a truly comprehensive list here, but below are some of the most common, serious, or pertinent to people living in Florida. For more information and regular updates and research on defective products, check out the website for the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Prescription drugs. Most people in Florida wouldn’t think of drugs that you get from the pharmacy as being “defective,” but if they are supposed to help you with a particular issue and they fail to do that, defective is exactly what they are. Additionally, many drugs produce side effects that aren’t mentioned on warning labels, and this can be even worse.
Cars, trucks, and SUVs. Automobiles have lots of workings parts, and if just one of them wasn’t designed properly it can lead to disaster. One of the most common problems in recent years has been roof panels or rollover bars that aren’t strong enough to protect people in the event of a crash where the vehicle lands on the roof. Countless people have been seriously injured or even killed because their roofs caved in and crushed them, and it’s not acceptable. Other issues include airbags that don’t deploy, seatbelts that snap open when too much pressure is put on them, and more.
Contaminated food. We’ve all eaten at a hole in the wall restaurant (or possibly even a big chain) and gotten food poisoning, but sometimes it’s more serious than a day or two spent constantly going to the bathroom. When food isn’t stored or prepared correctly, it can lead to big problems that impact large numbers of people, especially if it happens to large shipments of foods going to both restaurants and grocery stores.
Toys. According to CPCS statistics, in 2012 there were 11 children who died from defective toys and another 265,000 who were injured. Small parts can cause choking hazards. Toys utilizing lead paint are poisonous. Certain fabrics used for stuffed animals or other children’s toys are highly flammable. But if there’s no warning to this effect on the label, how would you know before a problem occurs?
Bike helmets. They’re supposed to be there to protect you, but just like seatbelts that disconnect at inopportune times or airbags that don’t deploy, defective bike helmets can cause more problems than they prevent.
Baby products. You would think that products manufactured for the most vulnerable among us would be checked so thoroughly that there would never be any problems, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Car seats are regularly recalled for safety issues, as are cribs, playards, and other items supposedly designed with child safety in mind. On top of that, parents of infants and toddlers also have to worry about all of the issues associated with regular toys.
Medical devices. Sometimes we experience a trauma that leads to surgery and the implantation of a medical device. These things are meant to help us and improve our quality of life, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Even though they have to go through FDA approval, defects can occur in products like prosthetics, bone screws, stents, and even ultrasound and x-ray machines. Because of their increased need of medical help, these kinds of defective products inordinately impact senior citizens, but they can cause problems for anyone using them.
Boats and water equipment. With almost 1,200 miles of coastline and gorgeous weather year round, people in Florida love getting out on the water. Unfortunately, defective water vehicles and equipment can make that a dangerous proposition. Transom failures, hull cracks, and engine problems are just a few of the things that have plagued some boat owners, and you can’t just believe it when the manufacturer says the issues are “cosmetic.” Additionally, Floridians have suffered from defective water wings and other kinds of pool and water equipment that led to injuries.
What Kind of Harm Do Defective Products Cause?
Generally speaking, improperly manufactured products cause problems in one of two ways: either they injure or kill someone, or they result in property damage because they don’t work the way they’re supposed to. That very vague description can mean lots of different things, though. Personal injuries include but are not limited to:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Spinal damage
Property damage has a similarly long list of possible issues that defective items can cause:
- Impact damage
What Makes a Product Legally Defective in Florida?
The state of Florida divides products that are defective into three categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, and marketing defects. All three categories have standards that companies are required to follow, often specific to the type of product that is being created. Businesses must:
- Design and manufacture their products to conform with existing standards, and/or
- Create and clearly display warnings when they are aware of potential harm
The latter half of that second bullet point is particularly interesting because the specific language says that companies have to be aware of foreseeable harm, which can mean that they should have known there was the potential for a problem even if they didn’t specifically experience it.
There are also several different types of product liability lawsuits that you can file in Florida, and knowing which one best applies to your case can be the difference between getting the compensation you deserve or losing your case. Knowledgeable defective product attorneys can look at the facts of your situation and tell you which type of case to file.
Strict liability. Most of the time, this is the type of claim that tends to be filed because they are easier to prove. All that you need to show is that a specific product does in fact have a defect and that this defect led to an injury. Do this and the manufacturer will be held responsible for any damages related to your injury.
Negligence. When you claim that a company was negligent, it is up to you and your representative to demonstrate carelessness in the manufacturing or design of the product in question. This is a three-step process where you must show 1) that it was the company’s duty to make sure their product was safe before selling it, 2) that they did meet this duty or “breached” it, and 3) that your injuries were actually caused by the product.
Warranty breach. All products have two warranties: the express warranty and the implied warranty. The express warranty is anything specifically stated by a retailer or manufacturer about a particular product. If it doesn’t live up to explicit promise, this is a breach of warranty. Additionally, there is an implied warranty that essentially says a product won’t cause harm if you use it correctly.
Not sure which category your product defect falls under? The best thing that you can do is set up a free consultation with Slootsky, Perez, & Braxton and go over your case in detail. The only way to get the compensation that you need and deserve is to go after it with someone who has a track record of success.
To schedule your free consultation, call us at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca Raton & West Palm Beach, toll-free at 877-566-8759, or fill out our short online form.