Statutes of Limitation
Florida’s product liability law states that the statutes of limitation extend up to 4 years for personal injury or property damage case and 2 years for wrongful death case. In case you fail to file a claim within this period under normal circumstances, you shall not be allowed again to file a lawsuit for the same case. However, the discovery rule applies in these product liability cases. This means that the time is counted from the date the facts giving rise to the cause of action were discovered. In fact, the unfortunate fact is that when you are dealing with a product that has an expected life of 10 years maximum, you cannot file a lawsuit if the harm was caused more than 12 years after delivery of the product to its first purchaser!
Limits on Damages
Florida’s product liability law states that even if you are at fault for an accident partially, you may still file a lawsuit. This is based on the pure comparative negligence rule. However, in this case, your recovery of damages shall be lowered in proportion to your fault. Florida also follows the economic loss doctrine. This doctrine states that you cannot pursue a product liability claim where the sole damages suffered are economic losses. The losses should be left for contract lawsuits to deal with.
Basis for Liability
A court usually discusses two types of theories in order to determine whether to hold someone liable for their harmful products or not:
It is all about the product itself.
It stresses on the actions of the manufacturer, seller or distributor.
In order to establish that a defendant should be held legally responsible for a defective product, you need to show that the product had a defect that caused a dangerous condition. A product can be rendered defective by its faulty design, defective manufacturing, or marketing loopholes.
In the case of defective design, it is claimed that it was the manufacturer’s intention for the product to turn out faulty. Thus, the manufacturer’s intended design is unreasonably dangerous. In Florida, the consumer-expectation test decides whether something is unreasonably dangerous. This test states that a product is considered unreasonably dangerous if it does not perform fully as safely as a reasonable consumer would expect when using it as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
In the case of manufacturing defect, the claim involves something going wrong during the manufacturing process. It implies that even if the product was designed to be safe, the product that left the manufacturing facility was not in line with that design. The manufacturer must be held liable for the specific injuries if that product then causes an injury when it’s being used for its intended purposes.
In the case of marketing defect, the focus is on the actions made by the manufacturer or supply chain of the product. These claims involve allegations that the distributor did not include genuine warnings about a product that was otherwise properly designed and manufactured. In this case, the plaintiff needs to prove that there were predictable risks of harm posed by the product; that these risks could have been minimized or gotten rid off by providing reasonable instructions or warnings. Thus, it needs to be established that the failure to include genuine alarming instructions or warnings made the product unreasonably dangerous.
A defendant might argue back in his defense that the product was modified after it left the defendant’s control, or that unforeseeable misuse of the product was the sole cause of the damage. These are the common claims made by the defendant to fight a product liability suit. Another valid argument that might be put forward is that the plaintiff knew about the danger of using the product and assumed the risk anyway.
Keep in mind that in a claim alleging defective design, the court must take into account the facts that are relevant to the state of the art of scientific and technical knowledge at the time the product was made, not necessarily at the time the injury or damage took place.
Plaintiffs are required to prove the following elements of a negligence claim in order to their product liability lawsuit:
- Accountable Loss
- No proper warning
- Proximate cause
- Product used as intended
Plaintiffs must establish that they suffered a prominent injury or financial loss as a result of using the manufacturer’s product.
Plaintiffs need to prove that the product was either of the ones: defectively designed, defectively manufactured, lack of adequate warning to the consumers even when he was aware of the lurking dangers.
Plaintiffs must show that the defect caused the injury proximately.
Plaintiffs also need to show that they were using the product as the manufacturer intended to be used or in a way the manufacturer could expect a reasonable person to use it.
However, no matter what kind of product defect you have experienced, but if you have sustained injuries, you should not pay from your pocket. After all, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the companies, if it is applicable as far as the case is concerned. Before filing a claim, make sure to consult with an experienced product liability attorney.