Even Old Ladders Must Meet Product Safety Standards
Common sense and experience teaches a person that the older an item is, the more likely it will break down and need repair. Most items will wear out over time, and need to be replaced. Because of this eventuality, many people would likely assume that if an injury happens due to a malfunction of an older item, it was just bad luck and not an inherent problem with the product. However, product defects can exist in items of any age, and if a defective product causes a consumer injury, he/she may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit to recover compensation. Manufacturers that sell products to the public have a duty to avoid exposing users to an unreasonable risk of injury. Basically, the product must function as the ordinary consumer would expect, and if it does not, the law says the manufacturer is legally responsible if an injury occurs. Tools are one type of product consumers tend to keep for a long period of time due to their relatively high price and durability. However, just because a product is older does not mean the manufacturer is off the hook for defects, and a Pennsylvania woman was recently able to secure a $7.15 million settlement for an injury that occurred in 2009 that left her paralyzed due to a defective ladder built in 1989. The law applies a more stringent standard of legal responsibility on product manufacturers for consumer injuries compared to personal injury cases generally, because of the potential for large numbers of people to get hurt. There are several different types of product liability cases, but here the focus will be on defective design injuries and how the law assigns liability for a related injury.
What Is a Defective Design?
Defective design cases focus on the design a manufacturer used to make the product, instead of the actual process of putting the item together. For a product to have a defective design, it must contain an inherent flaw that makes it unreasonably dangerous. A manufacturer can be held liable if it was foreseeable that when the product was manufactured as designed and used as intended it posed an unreasonable risk. Florida assesses reasonableness of risk based on what the ordinary consumer would expect if the product was used as intended or in a reasonably foreseen manner. If the ordinary consumer would not expect a particular product to pose a high level of danger, and it did, it could be considered unreasonably dangerous and open up the manufacturer to liability for an injury.
Defective design product liability cases can be based on two different types of legal claims: negligence or strict liability. For negligence claims, the focus is on the actions of the manufacturer, and an injured party would argue that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risk the product posed to consumers and failed to take to action to reduce that risk. Basically, negligence cases revolve around whether the manufacturer knew about a dangerous defect, and decided to put the product in the marketplace anyway. In strict liability claims, unlike negligence claims, it is not necessary to prove fault. Instead, the focus is solely on the design and function of the product itself. If the product is shown to be unreasonably dangerousness because of a defect in its design, including products highly dangerous by nature – knives, fireworks, etc., the manufacturer can be held liable if a consumer is injured. However, Florida law specifically says that the evaluation of defective design claims must be based on the technology available at the time the product was made, and not when the injury occurred.
Get Legal Advice
Consumers need to be able to trust that products they buy are safe for use, and if you suffered an injury because of a problem with item you bought, you may have grounds to sue for compensation. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado knows how to approach these complex cases, and is available to evaluate your injury. Contact us for a free consultation.