Products Liability FAQ’s

Can I pursue/make/bring a products liability case/claim/lawsuit if I am injured by a product with a defective design/design defect? What is a defective design/design defect? What does it mean for a product to be/how do I know/how can I tell if the product that injured/hurt me is/was defectively designed?

Yes, if you are injured by a product that was defectively designed, then you can bring a personal injury case against the designer or manufacturer of the product. A product will be said to be defectively designed if it is produced in a condition that makes it unreasonably dangerous to the user of the product.

What does it mean for a product to be unreasonably dangerous because of/due to/as a result of its defective design/design defect? What is/defines/qualifies as an unreasonably dangerous product?

A product will be considered to be “unreasonably dangerous” if it isn’t as safe as an ordinary consumer would expect either 1) when used as it was intended to be used by the manufacturer or 2) when used in a way reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer. This is referred to as the “consumer expectations test.” If a typical consumer would expect that a product would be safer than it actually is, then the product will be considered to be unreasonably dangerous.

However, a product will only be considered to be unreasonably dangerous if, at the time it injured you, it was being used as intended by the manufacturer or in a way reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer. After all, if you use a product in a way that wasn’t intended by the manufacturer and that method of use caused your injuries, the argument can easily be made that the manufacturer shouldn’t be responsible for your alternate use.

However, the manufacturer is responsible for “reasonably foreseeable” alternate uses. Reasonable foreseeability indicates that a manufacturer must attempt to ascertain all possible uses of a product (not only the intended use). If the manufacturer thinks that there is a decent chance that its product will be used for an alternate use, then the manufacturer must make its product safe for that use. For example, if a manufacturer produces a household product that could also be used as a child’s toy and this is reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer, then the manufacturer must make the product safe for children. If it doesn’t, then it will be responsible even though the product wasn’t specifically intended to be used as a child’s toy. This is true because the use of the product as a child’s toy was reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer.

What if the product that injured me was changed/altered after the time I bought it/purchased it/it was sold to me/it left the manufacturer’s hands?

You will only be able to pursue a products liability case against the designer or manufacturer of the product if, when you receive the product, it has not been substantially changed. That is, the designer or manufacturer will only be responsible if the product has remained unchanged after it left the manufacturer’s hands. If the product has been altered in some way after leaving the manufacturer’s hands, on the other hand, then the designer or manufacturer of the product will not be responsible. After all, in that scenario, the argument could easily be made that there is no way the designer or manufacturer could have anticipated that the change would have been made.

In order for the designer or manufacturer to escape liability, the change in the product will have had to be “substantial.” That is, if the change was something minor that didn’t affect the malfunctioning of the product that injured you, then the designer or manufacturer will not get off the hook.

When will the manufacturer of the product that injured/hurt me be responsible/liable for my injuries/harm? Will the manufacturer of the product that injured/hurt me be considered negligent?

The manufacturer of the product that injured/hurt you will be responsible for your injuries if the manufacturer acted negligently and this negligence caused your injuries. The manufacturer can be negligent either 1) in its negligent design of the product or 2) in its negligent inspection of the product after it was built. If the design for the product was bad and this defective design caused your injuries, then the manufacturer will be responsible.

Additionally, even if there was nothing defective about the design of the product brand, the manufacturer will be responsible if a particular product was built negligently (with a defect) and the manufacturer didn’t notice or catch it because of defective inspection. Even if a product brand was designed correctly and safely, a manufacturer can be responsible for individual products that aren’t built up to the design. After each of the individual products are built, a manufacturer should inspect each of them to make sure they’re built up to the design standards and are safe. If the manufacturer doesn’t and the product causes injuries to you as a result, then the manufacturer will be responsible.

What is the statute of limitations for a products liability case in the State of Florida?

In the State of Florida, the statute of limitations for a products liability case is four years. That is, if you are injured by a product in the State of Florida, you have four years from the date of injury to file your lawsuit. If you don’t, then your case will be forever barred.

Can I pursue a products liability case/file a products liability lawsuit/make a products liability claim against a product manufacturer if it wasn’t the product defect itself that caused my injuries/hurt me/injured me? Must it be the product defect that injured me in order for me to pursue a products liability case? Does it need to be the product defect that injured me in order for me to pursue a products liability case?

Yes, if you are injured while using a product, the only way that you will be able to pursue a products liability case against the manufacturer of the product will be if the product was defective and it was that defect that caused your injuries. If the product was defective but the defect had nothing to do with your injuries (i.e., it was something else that caused your injuries), then you won’t be able to pursue a products liability case.

Can I pursue a products liability case/make a products liability claim/file a products liability lawsuit based on a design defect/defective design? What will be used to determine if the product that caused my injuries had a defective design/was designed defectively?

The state-of-the-art of scientific and technical knowledge and other circumstances at the time of the product’s manufacturing is what will be used to determine if a product was defectively designed or had a design defect. That is, if the product was not designed up to the standard of the state-of-the-art of scientific and technical knowledge at the time of its manufacturing, then it will be deemed to have been designed defectively.

The scientific and technical knowledge at the time of its manufacturing (rather than at the time of your injury) is what will be considered in determining if the product was designed defectively. After all, after being sold, many products remain in use for many years and, during that time, scientific and technical knowledge can advance rapidly. It would be unfair to the product designer to hold it up to a higher scientific and technical standard that had developed in the years after the product was sold.

When can a company/business/corporation be sued for products liability/in a products liability case?

A company can be sued for products liability if it designed, manufactured, distributed, imported, sold or supplied a defective product that caused your injuries. That is, the company defendant doesn’t need to have made the product themselves – they can have only designed, distributed, imported, sold or supplied it. If the product was defective and that defect caused your injuries, then you can bring a products liability case against that company.

What is an express warranty? Can a company/business/corporation be liable/responsible if it makes untrue/incorrect representations of fact in connection with the sale/transaction on which I relied in the purchase/buying of the product? Can the company that sold me the product that injured me/hurt me/caused my injuries be liable/responsible if it says things about the product that later turn out to be untrue/incorrect?

Yes, if the company that sold you the product that caused your injuries made incorrect statements about the product (either orally/verbally or in writing), then that company can be responsible if the product later injures you. This is called a violation of an express warranty.

What is an implied warranty of merchantability?

An implied warranty of merchantability is a warranty made by the manufacturer of a product that the product will be safe if used in the manner in which it was intended or if used in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer. That is, if the manufacturer anticipates that a product it builds will be used for another purpose other than the one for which it was intended (for example, if the manufacturer knows that a household product might reasonably be used as a child’s toy), then the manufacturer must make that product safe for children.

The implied warranty of merchantability is implied because it does not actually have to be stated either in writing or orally. Rather, the manufacturer makes the warranty simply by selling the product.

What is the difference between a design defect and a manufacturing defect?

A design defect is one in which a product is designed in a way that makes it dangerous. A manufacturing defect, on the other hand, is one in which there is not necessarily anything wrong with the way the product is designed. Rather, with a manufacturing defect, an error has been made during the actual manufacturing of the product, and the product has been built to be dangerous as a result.

What is strict liability? Will the manufacturer of the product that injured me/caused my injuries/hurt me be strictly liable?

A manufacturer will be strictly liable for a product that injured you if the product is so dangerous and capable of causing injury that there doesn’t need to be any actual negligence in the manufacturing of a product. That is, certain products are so inherently dangerous by their very nature that their manufacturer will always be held to be liable when the products cause injuries. In order to win your strict liability case, you will not need to prove that the manufacturer of the product did anything wrong in the manufacturing of the product (other than actually create the product).

Will the distributor, importer or seller of the product that injured me/hurt me/caused my injuries be responsible/liable for my injuries?

Yes, if the distributor or importer sells you a product that injures you, then that distributor or importer can be held liable for your injuries just as much as can be the manufacturer of the product.

Can the manufacturer of a product be liable if it fails to provide/give adequate instructions or warnings along with its product?

Yes, the manufacturer of a product has a responsibility to provide adequate instructions or warnings along with its product in order to ensure that its product is used safely. If the manufacturer does not do this and the product is used in a dangerous manner and causes injuries as a result, then the manufacturer can be liable for those injuries.

Must the manufacturer/does the manufacturer of the product that injured/hurt me/caused my injuries need to/is it necessary for the manufacturer to recall the product if/once the manufacturer realizes that the product is dangerous/becomes aware of a defect in the product?

Yes, if a manufacturer of a product realizes that the product is dangerous after the product has already left the manufacturer’s hands, then the manufacturer of the product must recall the product. If it doesn’t, then the manufacturer can be responsible for any injuries the product subsequently causes.

How can I check to see if my vehicle/car/automobile/truck/van/sports utility vehicle (SUV) has been recalled?

You can check to see if your vehicle has been recalled at the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: https://www.nhtsa.gov.

What is implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose?

Implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is a warranty made by the manufacturer of a product that the product is safe for the use for which it is intended. For example, a coffee-machine is built to make coffee. When the manufacturer of a coffee machine sells the coffee machine, the manufacturer gives a warranty that the coffee machine will safely make coffee.

An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is implied because it does not need to actually be stated either orally or in writing. Rather, it is automatically made when the manufacturer sells the product.

What does it mean for a vehicle to be crashworthy? What is vehicle crashworthiness?

A vehicle is said to be crashworthy if it protects its occupants during an accident. If you are involved in an accident and your injuries are worse because of the vehicle you were in, then you may have a vehicle crashworthiness case against the manufacturer of the vehicle?

What is the risk/benefit defense? Can/will the manufacturer of the product that injured me/hurt me/caused my injuries argue that it shouldn’t be held liable because the benefits of the product outweigh its risks?

Yes, in a products liability case, the manufacturer of the product that injured you may try to argue that it shouldn’t be held liable because the benefits of its products outweighed the risks of injuries. This is known as the “risk/benefit” defense.

What is negligence per se?

Negligence per se indicates that there is only one way in which an accident could have happened. For example, in certain situations, when you are injured by a product, there is only one way in which you could have been injured – the product must have failed. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been injured. This is referred to as negligence per se.

Anthony Quackenbush handles products liability and defective products cases throughout the State of Florida. If you’ve been injured due to a defective product, call Mr. Quackenbush at 786-294-7711 for a free, no obligation consultation. He will happily talk to you about your case at no charge to you.

Should Mr. Quackenbush become your lawyer, he will do so on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t be charged until Mr. Quackenbush makes a recovery in your case – so there is no risk to you whatsoever.

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