Have You Been Injured Due to a Defective Product? Not Sure What to Do? Armando Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help!
Have you or someone you know been injured while using a product that was purchased? Were you the victim of an exploding cell phone that resulted in injury? Have you had a waiter accidentally spill hot food or a hot drink on you? Has your child been injured due to a defective toy? Were you injured in an automobile accident due to faulty tires or airbags? In all of these cases, an aggressive product liability attorney can aid you in recouping lost wages, medical costs, and compensation for pain and suffering. If you’re worried about the cost of medical bills, contact an attorney to see if they can take your case and if so, whether we can write a letter of protection to your medical providers for care.
Advances in technology have led to an exponential expansion of the number and varieties of consumer products available, from robotic vacuums to self-parking cars. However, even the most high-tech products can be defective or even dangerous, and when a product that is used as intended causes you or a family member injury, you may wonder whether you have any legal recourse. In some cases, filing a civil product liability lawsuit, with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, may provide your best chance of recovery.
What will you need to prove to prevail in court?
Under Florida law, you’ll need to establish the following factors in order to recover financial damages from injuries caused by a defective or dangerous product:
- You were using the product as intended;
- The product was defective;
- You suffered an injury due to the product’s defect; and
- This injury resulted in documented physical or financial harm.
To show that you were using the product as intended, you’ll need to introduce evidence about the circumstances leading to the injury. “Intended use” also encompasses any warnings included in the product packaging or on the product itself; ignoring these warnings makes it all but impossible to prevail on a personal injury claim.
You’ll then need to demonstrate that the product was defective. While this may seem self-evident, it is sometimes the hardest factor to prove; you may need to enlist the help of an expert witness, like an engineer, software programmer, or even a fire marshal who can provide testimony on what specifically renders the product defective. You may also find help in other public consumer complaints about the same issue. (One example of this is the recent news about certain phone batteries that explode or burst into flame when overheated.) An experienced product liability lawyer can help navigate the different ways in which to prove that a product you used was indeed defective.
Finally, you’ll need to prove that this product resulted in an injury or financial harm. Even if a product is unequivocally defective, without actual damages, there’s no recourse against the seller. This point can usually be carried with medical bills and records, bank statements, or even photographs taken while you were undergoing medical treatment.
In order to aid in your product liability case, you should make sure to do the following:
- Take pictures of your injury
- Seek professional medical attention as soon as possible
- Save all medical records and bills
- Document any work missed and wages lost due to your injury
- Save all correspondence related to your defective product injury
- Document all pain and discomfort you experience due to a defective product injury, no matter how minor it may seem
What Florida laws govern the imposition of liability for defective, dangerous, or recalled products?
Until October 2015, Florida courts had spent nearly four decades in conflict over the proper standard for product design defects, with some courts applying a strict liability “consumer expectations” test while others utilized a negligence-based risk/benefit test. This uncertainty made litigating these cases difficult, as the legal test to be applied to the undisputed facts could depend on as non-material a factor as where the case was filed.
However, in Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp., the Florida Supreme Court held that the strict liability consumer expectations standard was more appropriate for cases involving product defects or design flaws, essentially eliminating the use of the negligence-based test in Florida trial courts.
The differences between these schools of legal analysis are stark. Strict liability is based on the belief that a consumer who is injured or otherwise harmed by a product used as directed should have legal recourse against the manufacturer, even if the manufacturer has done all it could reasonably be expected to do to ensure that the product was safe. In order to hold the seller or manufacturer strictly liable, the plaintiff needs only to prove that the product was defective and that harm resulted from the defective product.
There are a few exceptions to this standard, including one for products that are “unavoidably unsafe” and therefore put the user on notice that there is some risk of harm; however, this strict liability standard is generally a much lower hurdle to clear than a general liability one.
On the other hand, the negligence-based theory seeks to balance the risk of injury against the benefit of the product. Under this theory, products are presumed to be safe unless the plaintiff is able to prove that the risk of using the product outweighed any potential benefit. Critics of this theory (including some Florida judges who continued to apply the strict liability test) argued that, under this standard, sellers would need to design their products only so that the benefits of use outweighed any risks, rather than designing it to be as safe as possible – and for lifesaving medication or equipment (like oxygen tanks), this risk analysis could be a burden impossible for any plaintiff to overcome.
The advent of the Aubin decision is good news for plaintiffs who no longer need to worry about arguing the risk and benefit analysis; instead, in situations in which you’re injured by a defective or dangerous product, you’ll need only to establish the product’s risk of harm and document your own injuries resulting from its normal use.
What Constitutes ‘Failure to Warn’?
Another type of product liability comes in the form of a failure to warn of potential dangers. In this case, it may not be that the product was necessarily defective, but rather that there was no clear warning to the possibility of injury. When there is an absence of instructions or warning labels on something that is potentially hazardous, anyone in the chain of distribution can be liable for injuries incurred.
For an example of a ‘Failure to Warn’ product liability case, read this article on a recent hot coffee burn lawsuite:
Armando Personal Injury Law Firm can help you recover what was lost due to a defective product or a failure to warn. We have over 20 years of experience handling product liability and defective product cases including, but not limited to:
- Burn Injuries
- Defective Children’s Products
- Defective Automobile Parts
- Defective Household Products
- Defective Drugs
If you have been hurt by a defective product, call today to schedule a free consultation. Don’t accept negligence on the part of a manufacturer! You deserve to be compensated for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Contact us today, and let us help you in getting all that you justly deserve for everything lost due to your defective product injury!