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There are personal injury cases, and then there are product liability cases. While there are lots of personal injury lawyers, few law firms offer the capability to handle product liability claims against the world’s leading product designers and manufacturers. At Searcy Denney, our defective product practice has a nationwide reputation for securing favorable results, and we have recovered billions of dollars in compensation for our clients’ losses. You'll be in good hands when you schedule a consultation with a Pensacola product liability attorney from our firm.
What makes product defect cases so unique? There are actually several different factors. One of them is the fact that product liability cases tend to involve claims against large corporations. Additionally, since it is rare for just a single product to be defective, these corporations are often at risk for extraordinary liability – often in the tens of millions, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.
Another factor that makes product defect cases unique is the fact that they are governed by the law of “strict liability.” In strict liability cases, proof of negligence is technically not required. If you can prove that a product was defective, that you were using the product as intended and that you were injured as a result of the defect, then you are entitled to financial compensation under Florida law.
But, when you are up against a team of defense lawyers from the biggest law firms in the world, this is easier said than done.
Despite the challenges involved in winning product liability cases, we have amassed a substantial record of favorable results. Over the past 40 years, we have secured substantial settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients in cases involving many different types of products, and we are available to represent individuals and families in Pensacola who have been harmed by:
If you’ve been injured due to using a specific product, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you will first need to prove that the product was defective. It’s important to note that in this context, “defective” does not mean broken. Instead, a defective product is one that is unreasonably dangerous for use by the consumer when it is used as intended. A product can be considered defective in one of three ways:
Identifying the specific defect in a dangerous product isn’t easy. For example, packaging defects can be especially tricky to identify because you need to know what may be required by the law and industry standards. In other cases, the product may suffer from multiple defects of different types. If you’ve been injured by a product that you believe is unsafe, an experienced Pensacola product liability lawyer can review your case and determine whether you have a claim.
The other challenge with product liability cases is determining against whom you should pursue a claim. Generally speaking, the type of defect will determine who you pursue. However, product liability claims almost always involve corporate entities, many of which design, manufacture, and distribute their products through various subsidiaries and other organizations. Here are some examples of who you may need to pursue:
It is not uncommon for claimants to sue multiple parties in product liability cases, as there may be many responsible. Failing to name the proper party can jeopardize your claim, so it is important that you carefully consider who you will pursue. For this reason, among others, product liability cases are very difficult for non-lawyers to pursue successfully. A Pensacola product liability attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Under Florida law, someone hurt by a defective product can seek compensation from many different companies involved in the distribution of that product. So that means it may be possible to get relief from a manufacturer and the businesses involved in wholesale and retail sales.
An experienced Pensacola product liability attorney could look closely at each link in the distribution chain to see who may be held accountable. This includes:
One product may involve many different producers. Very often, a manufacturer will use a variety of component parts made by other companies. One company might be responsible for the assembly of certain sections of the final product. Another company might have produced faulty marketing materials or instructions. It can take considerable research to determine all the companies involved in the development and production of an item, but that research is often critical in obtaining a fair recovery in a product liability case.
A product may pass through one or more wholesale sellers before ending up at the retailer that sells that product to the consumer. A Pensacola product liability lawyer knows that it is important to investigate to identify all the middlemen and to learn if the company has been acquired by another and changed names since the distribution of the product at issue.
Stores that sell goods to the public are held responsible for the safety of their wares. Customers trust retail stores and expect them to sell products that are safe when used as marketed.
Remember that it is not necessary to show that the company at issue was negligent in some way but only that the product was used as it was supposed to be used and injuries resulted.
A Pensacola product liability attorney gets many questions about recovering compensation when a defective product causes harm. Here are some common issues clients ask about:
In most situations, two types of warranties apply to products sold commercially—express warranties and implied warranties. These are described in the Florida statutes adopted from the Uniform Commercial Code. Under Fla. Stat. 672.313, an express warranty includes not only a promise made by a seller but also product descriptions and samples. The theory is that customers rely on the promise, description, or sample when deciding to purchase the product. A seller can create an express warranty for a product even without using key words such as “warrant” or “guarantee.” While a statement of fact about a product creates an express warranty under the law, a seller’s opinion or statement about the value of the product does not necessarily create that type of warranty.
The Florida Code refers to two types of implied warranties—merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. When someone sells a product that is within their regular line of business, the sale contract includes an implied promise that the product sold will be “merchantable.” This essentially means it should be of about average quality and be able to function in a manner typical of that type of product. In situations where a seller has specialized knowledge, and the buyer is relying on that seller to recommend a product for a particular purpose, the sale might also include an implied warranty that the product will perform appropriately for that specific use.
A Pensacola product liability attorney may be able to help consumers injured by defective products file claims based on breach of any of these types of warranties. However, the person filing the claim must have a contractual relationship with the seller, meaning that only the buyer can bring an action for breach of warranty.
A third party who did not buy the defective product can still file a claim and recover damages under strict product liability or negligence theories. In fact, even someone who did not use the defective product can still file a lawsuit if the product injured them. However, a third party cannot file a claim for breach of warranty.
If a court finds that you were negligent and your actions contributed to your injuries, the amount you may recover could be reduced to account for your conduct, but you are not automatically barred from seeking compensation. Florida uses a comparative negligence rule that allocates responsibility between parties on a percentage basis. In theory, this means that if you were 90% at fault for causing your injuries and someone else was 10% at fault, you could still recover for 10% of the pain, suffering, and other harm you suffered. A knowledgeable Pensacola product liability attorney could explain how individual fault might affect a particular outcome.
Those who manufacture and sell products can be held liable for marketing defects, including failure to provide adequate warnings. Safety experts recommend that warning labels should let consumers know about risks associated with a product, inform them about adverse effects from these risks, and inform them about avoiding potential risks. When a product lacks appropriate warnings or packaging depicts a product being used in a manner that poses inappropriate risks, then the consumer could have a claim for damages.
State laws limit the amount of time a consumer has to file a claim for a defective product, but the limit can vary depending on the situation. It is a good idea to consult a Pensacola product liability attorney as soon as it appears that a defective product could be at fault for contributing to the cause of an injury. Prompt action can avoid problems with the statute of limitations and give an attorney more opportunity to collect evidence to build a case.
Generally, a case must be prepared and filed within four years from the date of injury or two years after the date of death if the injuries prove fatal. However, this time period could be limited if a product was used after it expired, or it could be extended if the cause of the injuries was not discoverable immediately.
If the product that injured you or your loved one is yours, be sure to keep it. If it broke, burned or exploded, keep all of the remnants you can find. If you happen to still have the packaging, then keep the packaging as well. Otherwise, right now, your priorities should be to: (i) seek appropriate medical treatment for your (or your family member’s) injury; and, (ii) speak with a product liability attorney as soon as possible.
For more information about your legal rights after a product-related accident in Florida, please contact a Pensacola product liability attorney to arrange a free initial consultation. You can call us 24/7 at 800-780-8607 to schedule an appointment, or send us a message online and we will respond promptly.