PRODUCT LIABILITY ATTORNEY in Tampa
Everything in life has its own risks. You take a gamble each time you make a purchase from a company. You provide the money, they provide the product. In a perfect world, it’s expected that you get the product you pay for and that it is fully functional. Alas, the world has its defects, so what do you do if your product is defective as well?
Injured By a Defective Product? Call Us 24/7 for Help.
Product liability law allows consumers to seek financial compensation for injuries caused by defective products. These cases involve big businesses and manufacturers, making it important for plaintiffs to work with a skilled and experienced product liability attorney. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at Darrigo & Diaz have served clients for more than 200 years combined. Additionally, our team includes a board-certified civil plaintiff’s attorney – Nadine Diaz. We take calls 24/7, so please don’t wait to contact our firm.
If you’ve been hurt by a dangerous product, contact our office now for a free consultation.
What does “Product Liability” Mean?
Product liability, in itself, is exactly what it sounds like: to be liable for a product. Quality assurance doesn’t equal perfection. Because perfection isn’t realistically achievable, a lapse in quality checks can be expected, meaning there is an increased probability of a defective product. This is why product liability is relevant in legal cases. Typically, the plaintiff, who is the one who presents the case, is requesting compensation for an injured or deceased individual as a result of a defective product.
What Legally Makes a Product Defective?
Legalities can be difficult to dissect, so it is best to break down your research into easy-to-understand segments. It is worth noting that liability lawsuits laws are governed by each state’s laws. As a broad overview of defining what makes a product defective, there are a few requirements the product must meet. The product must have a fault that makes it unsafe for its intended use, including reasonable potential uses of the product as well. Proof must be provided indicating that the merchandise is flawed, which can be difficult to achieve.
Extensive research is usually the best method to prove one’s case. The product would be declared defective when the proof is provided. The defendant must be taken into consideration as well. Usually, the defendants include the seller, manufacturer, and/or the distributor of the product. They will be preparing their defense against the liability case, attempting to prove the product is functional without defect. They may even go as far as to claim that the injured customer was misusing the product and, therefore, they are not responsible for user negligence.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Product injuries are the result of negligence and can lead to serious auto accidents, truck accidents, food contamination or poisoning, and more – but finding out who is responsible for your injuries may not be as simple as you think. Generally speaking, there are three types of product defects, which determine who caused your injury and damages:
- Design Defects – Products that fall into this category are innately defective; the product design comes with a defect that poses the unreasonable risk of injury to consumers.
- Manufacturer Defects – Some products aren’t defective until the manufacturing phase. These errors occur when the manufacturer constructs the product with an error, making it defective.
- Inadequate Warnings – Some products come with innate dangers, such as a hot curling iron. If the warning label doesn’t notify consumers of this risk, the warning is defective.
What is the Difference Between a Design Defect and a Manufacturing Defect?
There are multiple defects a product can be exposed to. The two most prominent are design defects or manufacturing defects. Manufacturing defects are also commonly referred to as product defects.
An infamous design defect that you see examples of in the technology industry involves batteries. Imagine purchasing a brand new phone, and after a week of use, the phone’s battery starts heating up when charging. A few days later, the battery erupts. Consider what could happen if you were using the phone while the battery erupted.
This is precisely the type of design defect that would be introduced in a product liability case. The case would be presented by accusing the manufacturer of deliberately designing a product that could inflict danger or injury to the buyer. In this specific scenario, the manufacturer purposefully designed the phone where it was unable to support the size of the battery, resulting in this defect.
A defect that happens during production is also a possibility. This happens somewhere along the line of the manufacturing process. When a product has a defect that creates dangerous conditions within the product itself, it is likely the result of a mishandled quality assurance check. Quality assurance exists to eliminate any potentially flawed merchandise before it ever reaches the consumer. However, production defects are not limited to quality assurance.
What is “Failure to Warn”?
On the surface, this is defined as the manufacturer’s neglect to provide a warning of the potential risks involved with a product. This also includes situations where instructions were not provided, or the instructions were not thorough enough to educate the consumer on proper use. This can be a very technical situation and is usually left up for interpretation by the court.
Even if a warning is indicated, if the details or instructions on how to avoid the danger are unclear, there could still be a legal case involved. Companies protect themselves through the use of flashy warning stickers to catch the attention of the customer warning them to proceed with caution. Regardless of how many warnings a company provides, or how detailed they attempt to be in their disclosures, these legal cases tend to be complex and require extensive proof and research by both parties involved.
What is a Breach of Warranty?
Warranties are in place for the protection of the consumer and the seller. It assures the customer that they are guaranteed a right to certain advantages. This also builds up confidence in the buyer with the seller who can profit off of referrals and repeat business. If there is a breach of warranty on the buyer’s side, it generally forfeits all rights to the outlined benefits of said warranty. A seller can also breach a warranty when they do not honor parts of the warranty. This can be a cause for legal action against them as the warranty is a legally binding contract.
What’s an Implied Warranty?
The implication of a warranty is largely different from an actual warranty. The Oxford definition of the word “imply” is to strongly suggest the truth or existence of something not expressly stated. If you purchase any item, it is implied that the object will perform its intended function. For example, if you were to purchase a pen, you expect the pen to be capable of writing without inflicting any sort of harm to its user.
The warranty of the product’s function and safety is implied. The same goes for electronic devices whose intended purpose is to add to your experience, not put you at risk. A charger, for example, should be purchased without the worry that it will cause your phone to overheat and burn you. Even though this may not be explicitly stated on the packaging of the product, it is an implied warranty.
Who can be Held Responsible for a Defective Product?
There is a chance that more than just one party holds the responsibility for defective merchandise. While the manufacturers have control over the quality and assembly of the product, it doesn’t mean they always have the best intentions in mind. The creators of a project could intentionally cut corners for profits.
Sellers can approach distributors to flood the market with hazardous items that they assured were safe. Vendors are at risk as well. It is each party’s responsibility to research and evaluate their source of merchandise and its production quality. Anyone involved throughout the creation and selling process is liable, including third parties.
Florida product liability laws are somewhat complicated to navigate and you will need the help of an experienced product liability attorney to help you determine who is liable for a defective product. Because of the complexity of product liability law, manufacturers have been increasing the amount of insurance coverage they hold over the last decade.
What Damages are Recoverable in Product Liability Cases?
Each liability case has its own terms, so it is nearly impossible to estimate the results. There are many components to consider on a per case basis. This includes the influence of state or local laws which may affect how much of the damages are covered and how much compensation the injured may receive.
Compensation may include various damages like loss of income, or even medical expenses. These are known as economic damages. Non-economic damages may be more familiarly recognized by referring to them as “emotional damages”. Any pain or suffering the plaintiff may have felt, or if a disability or any sort of physical disfiguring occurred, are under this category. These types of damages are much more difficult to place a worth on.
Lastly, exemplary damages are intended to penalize the guilty party. If pursued, the guilty party may end up paying large sums of money to the injured party. This also demonstrates to other companies the risks with marketing flawed products. This type of damages isn’t so common because the plaintiff is required to somehow prove the company’s intentional misconduct, which is subjective and doesn’t always succeed.
Is There a Limit on Punitive Damages for Product Liability in Florida?
Yes, Florida has limits on the punitive damages you can seek in a product liability claim. Florida utilizes a rule known as comparative fault. What this means is that if you are found to be partially at fault for the injuries sustained by a defective product, the amount you can seek is reduced by the percentage amount you are deemed liable.
For example, if it is found that you are 50% responsible for the injuries caused by a defective product, the damages you seek will be reduced by 50%. If your claim is for $100,000, it would be reduced to $50,000. Within the comparative fault rule, Florida also follows the economic loss doctrine which states that you cannot seek a claim for damages if the losses suffered are purely economic. In this case, you would bring a breach of contract claim. Your attorney can help you better understand which course of legal action is the best to pursue.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Product Liability Claim in Florida?
The statute of limitations for filing a product liability claim in Florida is four years for an injury or property damage and two years for a product liability-related death. However, Florida also uses the Discovery Rule and the Statute of Repose, which is 12 years. What this means is the clock begins from the date you discover the defect or when the defect should have reasonably been discovered. For example, if the product has a normal useful life of 10 years, you will not be able to file a claim when more than 12 years have passed since you purchased the product.
We Hold Negligent Manufacturers Accountable
Companies have a duty to create products that are safe to use. Defective products, or products that are poorly designed, can pose dangerous consequences to users, and the companies that manufacture or sell them may find themselves liable for personal injury or wrongful death. We can help shine a spotlight on a poorly designed or manufactured product and seek compensation for victims who shouldn’t have been hurt in the first place.
At Darrigo & Diaz, we handle all types of product liability cases:
- Defective medical devices — These include cardiac defibrillators, mesh implants, spinal stimulators, and more dangerous or defective medical devices.
- Dangerous pharmaceutical drugs — Including opioids, Risperdal, Pradaxa, Yaz, Depakote, Zoloft, Lipitor, Paxil, Viagra, and GranuFlo.
- Defective cars and auto parts — If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a product defect of a vehicle part or design flaws in a vehicle, you may have the right to pursue damages from the car or part manufacturer.
- Faulty household appliances — If a household appliance had defective parts or designs that lead to injuries or property damage, you may be able to seek compensation.
- Dangerous children’s toys — Electronic devices, toys made with hazardous materials or paint, or inadequate warnings on children’s toys that result in an injury or death may be eligible for compensation.
Don’t Companies Have a Duty to Recall Faulty Products?
Unfortunately, some companies choose not to recall defective products because of what it will cost them to do so. Instead, some will choose to take their chances with lawsuits and payouts. This has happened repeatedly in the automotive industry. Even if car design and manufacturing defects result in injuries or death, a recall might not be issued if the company decides that the number of injuries or deaths does not justify the cost of the recall.
However, companies do have a duty to report to the CPSC known incidents where a person is injured or killed in connection with their product. Failure to report known incidents can lead to civil and criminal penalties for the company. Whether it is necessary to implement a recall after a report is somewhat up for debate and the lines between a serious hazard and one-off incidents are very blurry.
Why do I Want a Products Liability Attorney?
When presenting a case, each party is intending to win. Whether you’re the accusing party or on the opposite end, each one wants to come out successful. To do that, you must be able to prepare all the elements necessary for a product liability claim. Apart from simply stating the product is defective, you must prove, without a doubt, it actually does have a flaw, and additionally, that the injuries were a result of it.
Employing someone who is sufficiently versed in these exact scenarios is vital for a successful outcome. The defendant will go above and beyond to vouch for their product and disproving your claim. You need someone who knows what they’re doing on your side. Another benefit to consider is receiving the maximum compensation for a claim. You only have one chance, so it is better to do it right than to fail.
What Does it Cost to Hire an Experienced Products Liability Attorney in Tampa?
Injured parties are typically expected to pay a contingency fee. Contingency fees usually are a percentage of the final settlement amount. This is decided upon by the client and the attorney, but it is expected to be at least one-third of the final compensation amount. However, if your case does not have a favorable result, this fee is null and void.
This is contract-dependent and is not a guarantee. Each liability attorney will have their own rates to negotiate prior to hiring. A bonus of working with a firm is they may cover necessary out-of-pocket expenses upfront and expect compensation with no interest after the case has been won. All in all, rates are negotiable per case basis, so research for the right attorney may be necessary.
We Can Help You Seek Justice – Call Now for a Free Evaluation!
The role of a Tampa personal injury attorney in your case is simple: to fight for your rights and get the compensation you deserve. At Darrigo & Diaz, we have more than 200 collective years of legal experience. Let us use it to help you. We aren’t afraid to take your case to court, and we can help you create an effective strategy for your claim or lawsuit. To learn more about your options, contact our firm and ask about our free case evaluations.