Product Liability – What You Need to Know

There are three types of product liability claims: defective design, defective manufacture, and failure to warn or instruct. You or a loved one can be injured by any type of product: a vehicle, household item, toy, recreational item, medical device, pharmaceutical or over-the-counter drug, or any other man-made product. As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I have helped many clients injured by a wide variety of products recover damages to compensate them for the injuries, loss of income, expenses, and pain and suffering caused by a company’s negligence.

Defective design

If a product is designed poorly, it could increase the risk of injury even during proper use of the item. Defective design is often the cause of many auto recalls, but unfortunately, some of those defects are not discovered – or at least not reported – until someone gets hurt. An electric blanket’s design may cause burns when set at the highest temperature or may short out, causing burns. Power tools may not include safety features, which exist but were not included in the design. Products designed for children may be choking hazards.

An unusual example is Blitz gas cans, which had a design flaw allowing gasoline vapors that ignite outside the can to follow the vapor trail back into the can and explode in people’s hands. Although this seems like a worst-case scenario, it is a possibility when dealing with flammable liquids. Blitz failed to consider the possibility and design the cans to prevent such an event. Between 1994 and 2012, millions of dollars were awarded to compensate injured victims.

Defective manufacture

Defective manufacture means that the design was safe but the manufacturing process was defective, thus causing the product to be faulty and cause injury. This may occur in a variety of ways. For example: a product may be contaminated by debris in the manufacturing facility, such as sawdust, metal shavings, solvents, or cleaning agents; the manufacturer’s product control procedures may be insufficient to eliminate defective products before they are sent to market; the manufacturing procedure may have not been set up according to the design provided by the product designers.

Poor manufacturing can occur in a myriad of ways, which is why manufacturing defects are the most common product liability suit.

Failure to warn or instruct

Many common warnings on labels are there now because injuries or deaths have occurred in the past. “Keep out of reach of children.” “This bag is not a toy.” “This product was made in a facility that also processes peanuts.” At one time, these warnings were not on packages, leading to someone’s injury or death. 

Failure to warn or instruct cases most commonly occur in pharmaceutical and over-the-counter products. For instance, a product may not warn against certain side effects or warn against using it in combination with other drugs, or it may not properly instruct how to use the product under different health conditions, such as pregnancy, diabetes, etc. 

Johnson’s Baby Powder, that iconic product, was taken off the market because of lawsuits in the billions of dollars due to its connection to cancer. In this case, the talc (baby powder) was contaminated with asbestos, and apparently internal documents demonstrated that they knew this and did not warn the public. 

Formulating a successful claim

As the injured party, you may not know which of these claims is the right one for your case. You only know – or suspect – that your injuries or illnesses are connected to a product that you used. It’s my job as your attorney to determine which of these claims is appropriate. Sometimes there are multiple claims. 

For instance, not only did Johnson’s Baby Powder have a manufacturing defect that allowed asbestos into a product that was used primarily by women and children, including infants, they knew it and hid the fact. This would indicate a manufacturing defect, failure to inform, and even more seriously, fraud.

Determining whether a product is defective due to a design flaw or a manufacturing problem requires extensive investigation. And just as there may be more than one claim, there may be more than one defendant; designers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers are all involved in getting a product to market, and any one or more of them may have been at fault in allowing a dangerous product to reach you. Our team of investigators will research the process and find where the negligence took place in order to hold the guilty parties accountable.

If you have been injured by a product in Florida, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your product liability claim.  Every case I take on becomes personal to me, as if one of my own friends or loved ones had been injured, and I work vigorously to uncover every possible expense or complication for my clients to help them get the maximum settlement for their injuries. I’m not afraid to go to court if necessary, and I have a track record of winning significant awards. Contact me today, 24/7, at (954) 448-7288, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Contact Information