Product Liability Lawyer in Miami
When a product sold to the public fails to work as designed, or is manufactured with defects, it can cause serious harm to consumers. Product liability law attempts to help consumers receive compensation following an injury from a product that was purchased through the stream of commerce.
There are several ways a consumer can seek compensation, and product liability law can make it easier under certain circumstances. A product liability lawsuit is typically based on state law and attempts to prove liability through negligence, strict liability, or a breach of warranty claim.
If you were injured by defective merchandise you may be entitled to compensation. A product liability lawyer in Miami can assist in determining who might be liable, and which theory of product liability law would apply. Call Schlacter Law today for a consultation.
Design and Manufacturing Defects
There is a distinction between a design defect and a manufacturing defect. A design defect occurs while a product is in the planning stage, and is still be designed for use by a consumer. There are two elements necessary to show that a design defect existed in a lawsuit:
- The design was unreasonably dangerous even before it was produced
- The manufacturer should have reasonably anticipated that some harm would have been caused by the design
Typically, design defect cases show that the manufacturer not only should have known the design was faulty but chose not to use a design that would have better protected the consumer from harm. This choice may have been made to save money, or save time in the manufacturing process, or both.
A manufacturing defect is one that occurs not as a result of the initial design, but rather as a result of an error on the manufacturing line that was not intended to be part of the product in the first place. These types of defects are unplanned and were caused by a manufacturing error before the item left the factory. It is important for a plaintiff to establish that the defect existed before reaching the consumer, rather than an injury caused by general wear and tear by a consumer using the product in a manner the item was designed for.
Manufacturing and design issues require careful analysis of the circumstances which led to an injury. If you were injured by defective merchandise, a Miami product liability lawyer can help determine the type of defect that caused the injury, and help you seek compensation for those injuries.
Types of Product Liability Cases in Miami
There are three general types of cases used in a product liability claim. The three types of cases are:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
Similar to any other type of negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff is required to show the same elements to be successful. These elements of negligence are:
- The defendant had some kind of duty owed to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached this duty
- The defendant was the cause of the injury
- The defendant caused actual harm to the plaintiff
Negligence in a product liability case may show that the manufacturer had a duty to sell safe merchandise and breached this duty when the item contained a design defect. When this design defect causes an injury, and the harm is measurable, compensation may be available when all of the required elements are proven.
Strict liability is another avenue for receiving compensation in a lawsuit. Strict liability makes it easier for a plaintiff to prove liability by only requiring a showing that the defect existed in the merchandise and an injury was sustained as a result of the defect. When the defect is proven to exist, the defendant is strictly liable for the damages, even when care and caution were used while manufacturing the item. Strict liability cases must show that the merchandise was purchased through the regular chain of distribution, and not second-hand or on the used market.
A successful product liability lawsuit may also be made through a claim for a breach of warranty. Once an item is sold to a consumer, there are two warranties consumers rely on:
- Express warranty
- Implied warranty
An express warranty is a guarantee made by a manufacturer that their merchandise will meet a certain level of safety and reliability. When the item fails to live up to that standard the manufacturer will fix or replace the item free of charge. When a device is initially purchased most express warranties are written down and included with the merchandise.
An implied warranty means an item will work in the way it is claimed to work. For example, a dishwashing machine that claims to clean all residue off of a dish, but fails to use enough water to adequately do so, might be a breach of an implied warranty. Federal law calls this an implied warranty of merchantability, and requires the following:
- Conform to trade standards
- Fit the purpose that these goods are typically used
- Uniform quality
- Uniform labels and packages
- Conform to the specifications on the label
Determining when a product liability lawsuit falls under negligence, strict liability or breach of warranty requires the help of someone who understands the elements of product liability cases. A Miami product liability lawyer has the knowledge necessary to assess the circumstances that led to an injury by defective merchandise and can help you in recovering compensation for those injuries.
A manufacturer has a duty to warn a consumer of any dangers the item might produce, both intended and unintended. Failing to do so may hold the manufacturer liable for any injuries. In an attempt to fulfill that duty, many manufacturers provide warning labels to give notice to a consumer of the expected and possibly unexpected injuries that can result from using the item.
A manufacturer has a duty to warn a consumer when:
- A product is dangerous by its nature
- This danger should be known by the manufacturer
- This danger is present when the merchandise is used in a manner that is usual or expected from this type of product
- The danger is not well known or obvious to the user
In an attempt to adequately warn a consumer of any harm a device might present, the American National Standards Institute has been given the responsibility to maintain the guidelines for product safety labels and signs. According to the American National Standards Institute’s guidelines, labels should:
- Inform the consumer of any existing hazards
- Inform the consumer of any risk involving the item
- Inform the consumer of the effect of any hazard
- Inform the consumer on how to avoid the hazard
These standards include signage in different colors to indicate the severity of the danger:
- Red Labels – Dangerous condition – there is a serious risk of death or injury
- Orange Labels – Warning – there is a potentially hazardous condition that may result in death or injury
- Yellow Labels – Caution – there is the potential for a slight or moderate injury
These guidelines are used to help inform consumers of the risk of harm an item may present and, in most circumstances, fulfills the manufacturer’s duty to warn a consumer of those risks. However, warning labels do not always adequately warn of an item’s danger. If it is determined that the duty to warn a consumer of any dangers is not met, a manufacturer may still be liable for any injuries or harm that results.
A Miami product liability lawyer understands the complexities of product liability cases, warning labels, and whether negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty would apply. If you were injured by defective merchandise, call a product liability attorney today for assistance in evaluating the circumstances of your case.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you were injured by a defective product, Florida requires a lawsuit to be filed within four years from the time the injury occurred. This is known as the statute of limitations, and if a lawsuit is not filed within this time frame the case may potentially be dismissed. It is essential to speak with a Miami defective product attorney as soon as possible to ensure that these types of important deadlines are not overlooked.
A Miami product liability law firm will usually take these types of cases on a contingency fee. This allows a potential plaintiff to seek legal help without having to pay a fee upfront. The attorney would get paid only if they are successful in getting compensation for their client, and they would get between 33.33% and 40% of the plaintiff’s award. If you need legal assistance, call Schlacter Law today. We can assist with any legal questions you have and can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.