In Florida, almost every regulated or approved product that’s available in the state is subject to product liability law. This also applies to any product that’s manufactured in the state. While hundreds of thousands of products are subject to the law, there are a few that are more commonly seen in lawsuits.
If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you may have legal grounds to file a claim and receive compensation for your injuries and financial losses. While most products will qualify for a product liability lawsuit, you’ll need to meet certain criteria. A product liability lawyer can help.
Examples of Products Covered Under Florida’s Product Liability Law
Some of the more well-known product categories often seen in product liability lawsuits include:
- Children’s products
- Vehicles and auto parts
- Exercise and sporting equipment
- Household electronic appliances
- Home maintenance equipment
- Gardening and yard tools
- Skincare products
- Home entertainment equipment
- HVAC equipment
- Construction materials and tools
- Home repair equipment
- General recreational products
The U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission (CSPC) provides a more comprehensive list. The website also has a list of unregulated products that are likely not subject to Florida’s product liability laws. If you’re wondering if you can file a defective products claim after suffering injuries from a defective product, talk to the product liability lawyers at Viles & Beckman, LLC.
For a free legal consultation, call (239) 334-3933
Grounds for Filing a Product Liability Claim in Florida
For most people, a defective product is one that doesn’t work as well or as effectively as it should. However, that’s a very basic definition. Before you can file product liability claims in Florida, your case must meet the standards as defined under Florida Statutes § 768.81(d), which means it must fall under one or more of the following categories:
All products should have functional and reasonably safe designs. If there is a flaw in that design and it results in injuries or losses for the consumer, the manufacturer may be held liable for those damages.
While most products pass the consumer expectation test, a few do not. To determine if the defective product has a design flaw, the courts will assess the product on the basis of reasonable utility.
If it finds that the product did not meet the standard of use for which it was designed and produced, the case can move forward. Another measure by which the court also determines the validity of a claim is if it finds that using the product poses a greater hazard to the consumer than its reward. This is usually filed as a strict liability claim in Florida.
Marketing/Advertising Defects or Failure to Inform
All products should have adequate marketing and product information, including the dangers and side effects of using such products. If consumers who don’t have adequate information because these details weren’t provided by the manufacturer use the products and suffer health problems or adverse side effects, they can sue the manufacturer.
This is usually filed as a strict liability case too. A good example of failure to inform (or failure to warn) is the litigation filed against cigarette companies in the 1990s. The basis of the legal action was that the tobacco companies failed to inform smokers of the health dangers of smoking and the inclusion of addictive ingredients such as nicotine.
The litigants’ contention was that, had the tobacco firms provided this information from the beginning, many people would have either stopped smoking or never taken up the habit.
Defects in Manufacturing
Sometimes, product designs and information can be accurate, but the production phase can be flawed. When this occurs, it’s known as a manufacturing defect, and it can be very dangerous as products may not function as expected.
For example, the CPSC reports that Super Jumper had to recall about 23,000 trampolines for manufacturing defects that lacked reinforcement clamps. This caused the welds to break while the trampoline was in use, resulting in injuries.
Manufacturing errors can be caused by the use of poor or cheap materials, incorrect assembly, and lacking parts. They’re often more common in factories where there’s poor quality control and assurance.
As you can see, there must be proof that one of these occurred and led to your injuries or losses. Without these being met, you’ll have no grounds for filing a product liability claim in Florida.
Important Things to Note About Product Liability Claims in Florida
Per Florida’s product liability statute, even if you have a right to file a product liability claim or lawsuit, there are a few rules to take note of. These include:
Pure Comparative Negligence
If you can show that a product is unreasonably unsafe, you may file a lawsuit on the grounds of strict liability. This means that you do not have to prove that the at-fault party was negligent. However, there are some instances where comparative negligence comes into play.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that if you’re partly responsible for the injuries and/or losses you sustained while using the defective product, your compensation will be reduced to the degree that you’re liable.
For example, if the faulty product caused a $200,000 damage, but you are 30% culpable somehow, you will only get a fraction of the awarded payout (specifically, 70%).
The Economic Loss Rule
Florida’s economic loss rule basically states that consumers cannot file a product liability claim or lawsuit if they did not suffer any injury or property damage.
So, if the basis of your claim is financial damages where you’re only looking to recover something like lost business revenue, your claim may be denied. For example, if a manufacturing defect causes your machine to break down and leads to a loss of income, you cannot file a product liability claim.
However, if said machine caused you physical injuries or led to a fire that burned a part of your work establishment, you can file a compensation claim.
Deadline for Filing a Claim
Per Florida’s statute of limitations (Fla. Stat. § 95.11), all product liability claims must be filed within four years of the incident.
If you lost a loved one due to the effects of the defect, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim citing the defective product as the basis of the claim within two years of the loved one’s passing. Failure to do this may lead to the denial of your claims.
Talk to a Leading Product Liability Law Firm in Florida
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re filing a product liability claim in the sunshine state. Product defect cases are often complicated and usually require the expertise of seasoned legal professionals.
At Viles & Beckerman, LLC, we have highly experienced product liability lawyers who understand your predicament and can help you recover the compensation that you deserve.
If you would like to discuss your case, please contact us today. We offer free case evaluation services to people who are looking to file a product liability claim in Florida.