Product Liability For Unsafe Household Items
A significant portion of all the products sold in the U.S. are designed for household use. The majority are of course safe, but every so often one will cause real harm to a consumer. When it does, a person must determine who may be at fault for the injuries they have suffered. This type of lawsuit is brought under a legal theory called product liability, and it is a somewhat complex area of law where an experienced attorney’s guidance can come in handy.
Three Types Of Liability
Under Florida law, there are three different types of product liability under which a plaintiff might be able to bring suit. Design defect means that the product as designed is allegedly unreasonably dangerous as designed – that is, that there was a foreseeable risk of harm when using the product, produced as is, in the manner it is supposed to be used. Manufacturing defect means that the product was in a dangerous condition when sold, but it was not intentionally manufactured in that manner – for example, a switchblade knife with a faulty closing mechanism. Marketing defect, also called failure to warn, is when a product is properly designed and manufactured, but it is still foreseeably dangerous, and no warnings are provided to the consumer.
Any of these potential causes of action may also be brought in Florida under a strict liability theory. Strict liability is when someone may be found liable for a consumer’s injuries, regardless of whatever intent they may have had to ensure the product was as safe as possible. In other words, if the product is in an unreasonably dangerous condition, a defendant will generally be held strictly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, because the inference is that no attempt to improve the product was made – after all, if it is in such dangerous condition, any attempt to improve the product was manifestly unsatisfactory.
What Must Be Shown?
For a household product to be declared defective, there are certain criteria that a plaintiff has to show to the court, some of which can be difficult to prove. The plaintiff has to show that a defect existed in one of the three ways listed, or that there is grounds for strict liability. They also must show that they suffered harm when using the product, and that they were using the product exactly as it was intended to be used – for example, someone cannot bring suit alleging that a kitchen spray was unreasonably dangerous or that a failure to warn occurred if they ‘used’ the product by spraying it into their eyes. Perhaps most importantly, the plaintiff must also be able to show that their injuries were a direct, or proximate, result of the product being used as intended. In other words, no other supervening cause can exist.
It is important to keep in mind that almost any product can be defective and dangerous. Some people hesitate to file suit because they believe that they have no case – but it is rare that a product liability case, especially for a household product, is turned away out of hand. While there is a statute of limitations on how long one can wait before deciding to bring suit (in Florida, a product liability action must be commenced within four years of the injury), there are almost no other restrictions on what type of product liability suit can be brought, as long as a plaintiff can prove what they need to prove in court.
Contact A Knowledgeable Attorney
Your home should be your castle, and a defective or dangerous product can easily shatter that peace all too quickly. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective household product, contacting the Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group can be a good way to start regaining peace of mind. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.