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Understanding Product Liability Laws in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

Product Defect

Defective products can cause serious injuries or even wrongful death. Such situations may involve a product which injures someone immediately. They may also involve products which harm people over time due to toxic exposure. These types of cases present some of the most complex issues in personal injury law. This is why we are providing this guide on product liability in the state of Florida. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then it is important that you contact an attorney.

This guide will cover multiple topics. These include:

  • The different theories of liability in a product defect case
  • Identifying the defendants in such matters
  • How a victim’s damages are calculated
  • How Florida’s statute of limitations apply in product defect cases

Each of these issues will be discussed in turn.

Theories of Liability

Defective Design

A product is “defectively designed” if it was built in the way which the designer intended and is unreasonably dangerous. This can involve situations in which the designer was well aware of the risks and simply ignored them. It can also include situations in which the designer failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the product would not be unreasonably dangerous. In Florida, products are considered “unreasonably dangerous” if they create an unsafe situation when being used in a way which the average reasonable consumer would use them.

Defective Manufacture

Products are considered to have been defectively manufactured if a manufacturing process error creates a flaw that would not have existed in the designer’s original design. If the risk created by the faulty manufacturing results in harm to a consumer, who was using the product in the way that it was intended to be used, then the manufacturer faces liability. 

Defective Marketing & Inadequate Warnings

Defective marketing and inadequate warnings are two situations which involve a product being presented to the public in a way which makes the consumer unaware of potential risks. If a product’s marketing leads the public to believe that it is safe for a particular use, then liability may ensue when an individual is injured while using the product in that way. If, on the other hand, a company knows about risks with its products but fails to adequately disclose them, an injured consumer may have recourse if they were using the product as intended.

Identifying the Possible Defendants

It is crucial to identify all of the possible defendants in a product liability case. Failing to do so can result in a victim not receiving the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled. Who to hold liable for a victim’s injuries will vary greatly from situation to situation. As a general matter, each of the theories of liability discussed above may involve multiple defendants. Consider the following examples:

  1. A smartphone design results in a battery which overheats and potentially explodes. The designer of the phone is aware of this issue and still sends the phone to a third-party manufacturer for production. As part of their quality testing, the manufacturer experiences several phone explosions. Upon examination, the manufacturer realizes that it is a design flaw and not a problem with their process. They ship the phones as designed and never raise the issue with the designer. Under this scenario, the designer would clearly be liable under the concept of “design defect.” The manufacturer, however, will also have knowingly manufactured a dangerous product. This can result in liability.
  2. A smartphone design is sent to a manufacturer for production. The design is sound but the designer is aware that they have chosen a manufacturer with a history of “cutting corners.” The manufacture of the phones lead to several defects which cause battery explosions. While the manufacturer would be liable, the designer may also face liability for knowingly choosing a manufacturer who posed a danger to consumers.

Again, the identification of defendants in such matters are highly complicated and will vary on a case by case basis.

Calculating Damages

The damages in a product liability case can include compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. It may also be possible to obtain punitive damages if it is shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant’s acts were intentional or that they stemmed from gross negligence. Examples of intentional conduct can include cases brought under the “defective design” theory, in which the company knew a design was dangerous but produced the product anyway.

Damages awarded to a Plaintiff will be subject to Florida’s comparative fault laws. Under Florida law, which was revised in 2023, a victim may not recover damages if they were more than fifty percent at fault for an accident. This would mean that if a product was defective, but the victim was also negligent as to how they used the product, then the victim’s compensation may be reduced or eliminated. 

The Statute Of Limitations and Statute of Repose

Florida’s statute of limitations for negligence cases was reduced to two years in 2023. This would mean that, in most injury cases, a victim must bring suit within two years of an accident. A victim’s statute of limitations will not begin to run until they should have reasonably been aware of the harm. When you consider that product defect cases may involve situations in which exposure to the product created health problems over time, then it may be some time before the statute of limitations begins to run. The time to bring an action, however, will remain limited under Florida’s statute of repose. 

Contact a Florida Product Liability Attorney Today

If you have been injured by an unsafe or defective product then it is important that you take immediate steps to protect your rights. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of people over those of corporations. We take pride in the service we provide and we look forward to speaking with you. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to speak with a Florida product liability attorney.

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Posted By: Bud Wilder