Accidents happen, and the injuries they cause keep Florida hospitals and emergency rooms busy. Injuries in the state in 2020 resulted in more than 1.5 million emergency room visits and almost 140,000 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Department of Health. In Tallahassee’s Leon County, injuries that year led to more than 20,000 emergency room visits and 1,110 hospitalizations.
Falling down the stairs because of a misstep or slicing your hand open because you got distracted while dicing onions can truly be called accidental. However, what if the injury occurred because of a defective consumer product? What if a consumer product failed to work properly, was poorly designed or haphazardly manufactured, and the defect played a distinct role in causing your injury or, in some cases, an illness?
Well, the Tallahassee-based personal injury lawyers of Akbar Law Firm would likely tell you to hold off calling it an “accident” and suggest that the details of what exactly caused the injury or illness deserve closer examination. That’s because Florida’s product liability laws allow consumers to pursue compensation when defective products cause personal injuries, illness or death.
Product liability laws evolved to compensate people for expenses and other damages incurred if injured or rendered sick by a defective product through no fault of their own. Medical care is expensive, and even if covered to some extent by insurance, recovering from defective product-related injuries or illness can result in overwhelming medical bills and related expenses.
Serious injuries can require costly surgery, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, physical rehabilitation, prescription medications, and related medical services. Meanwhile, recovering from your injuries can impact your earnings by keeping you from working for days, weeks, months, or even longer. Longer-term, disabling injuries might end your career or limit your ability to handle work responsibilities in the same capacity you did before the injury.
In addition to impacting your finances, injuries or illness caused by a defective product also causes pain and suffering. The duration of most victims’ pain and suffering tends to last from the onset of the injury until recovery, with surgeries and physical rehabilitation typically compounding the experience. However, the nature of some injuries and illnesses can result in longer-term painful conditions that may prove permanent. Some victims also suffer long-term impacts from mental pain, characterized by post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Florida’s product liability laws essentially allow people who believe they have been injured by a defective product to sue responsible parties for damages. The definition of what constitutes a “product” pretty much covers anything that can be bought and sold. “Responsible parties” can include manufacturers, designers, distributors, retailers, and sometimes other entities that may have played a role in bringing the product to market. This latter group could include a manufacturer who may have built defective components for the product or a packaging materials company that failed to include correct instructions on the labeling.
To succeed in a defective products-based personal injury case, we need to be able to prove that:
In general, defective product lawsuits are argued under the legal theory of either strict liability or negligence. Strict liability is based on the plaintiff proving that the defendant’s product was unreasonably dangerous and was responsible for the defendant’s injuries. With negligence, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff was negligent in producing or marketing the product and that this negligence was responsible for the damages. Other legal theories that can be brought into defective product lawsuits cover fraud, breach of warranty, and misrepresentation, all of which can enhance the likelihood of receiving punitive damages (see below).
Florida law allows victims to pursue damages even when they may have been partially at fault for the incident that caused the injury. The victim still needs to prove the relevant product defect and that it contributed to the injury, but any damages awarded will be lowered proportionally to account for the victim’s role in the incident.
Those who pursue a defective products claim are eligible to recover four different types of damages in their lawsuit:
Compensatory—to recover monetary expenses of medical treatment and recovery, lost wages, damage to other property, and other expenses incurred due to the injury or illness (note that defective product lawsuits cannot be used to claim property damages solely).
Pain and suffering—compensation to account for the mental trauma and quality of life disruption caused by the injury’s pain and suffering.
Punitive damages—brought into play when the defendant’s actions appeared to be malicious or indifferent to human health and safety.
Loss of consortium—may be awarded if the victim can prove that the injuries or illness negatively impacted their relationship with a spouse.
If you believe that you have been injured or made ill because of a defective product, there are several actions you should take to bolster your compensation claims. First off, tend to your injuries or illness with professional medical care. As soon as you feel well enough, you should contact a personal injury lawyer, such as the experienced ones at Akbar Law Firm. Your personal injury lawyer can assess the incident, defective product, and injury or illness to determine the strength of your claim and determine what steps should be taken next. Other actions you should take include:
Akbar Law Firm’s mission is to help Tallahassee and North Florida-area clients receive just compensation they are legally entitled to for injuries or illnesses suffered due to defective products. When our clients present us with a case that seems to strongly suggest that a defective product caused injury or illness, our personal injury lawyers thoroughly investigate every detail of the incident and product involved to determine the appropriate and just compensation the client deserves. We strive to build the most robust case possible to ensure that our clients receive this compensation, whether through negotiations or in court.
Clients who partner with Akbar Law Firm for their defective product personal injury receive compassionate attention to their case and a dedicated effort to secure the best outcome for their case possible. We strive to ensure that our clients are kept fully informed about every development in their case, which helps reduce their stress so that they can focus on physical and emotional recovery.