What Are Some Potential Defenses In Products Liability Cases?
If you were ever injured by a product, you may have a valid products liability claim against the manufacturer of the product, as well as against any distributor, seller, or retailer of that product. However, it is crucial to understand some of the potential defenses that a manufacturer or retailer may bring in a products liability case in an attempt to reduce their own liability. The following article will discuss some of these defenses.
What is a products liability claim?
According to Florida Statute § 768.81(d), a products liability claim is a civil action based on the theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. In a products liability suit, the plaintiff alleges that she experienced specific damages or injuries resulting from the manufacture, design, construction, installation, or assembly of a product. Several parties could potentially face liability for these types of damages, including the original manufacturer of the product or the owner of the store that sells the product.
What are some defenses that can be used in products liability cases?
There are several defenses that may be brought by defendants in a products liability case, some of which include:
- The defective product did not cause the Plaintiff’s injury. In products liability cases, the Plaintiff must be able to show that his injuries were directly caused by his use of the allegedly defective product. If the Defendant is able to show that the manner in which the injury was caused could not have been realistically predicted (and therefore could not have been prevented by a better product design or more adequate warning), this would severely hurt the Plaintiff’s case.
- The Plaintiff was negligent in using the product. If a Defendant is able to successfully show that a Plaintiff’s negligent actions concerning the product resulted in the Plaintiff’s own injuries, the Plaintiff may not have a strong claim. Misuse of a product (for example, using a glass tabletop as a “stool” to help you change a light bulb) is an example of negligent action on the part of the Plaintiff that may reduce the amount of compensation a Plaintiff is able to recover.
- The Plaintiff assumed the risk by using the defective product. Some defendants will concede that their product is defective. However, they may argue that, upon learning that it was defective, the Plaintiff still used the product. By doing so, the Plaintiff “assumes the risks” associated with using such a defective product and as such, the Defendant cannot be held completely liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries.
- The applicable statute of limitations has expired. In Florida, a Plaintiff must bring a products liability claim within 4 years from the date of his injury. If he fails to do so, the Defendant can raise this defense and have the entire case dismissed.
- The product warranty was disclaimed by the Defendant or was not properly acted on by the Plaintiff. Sometimes, manufacturers or retailers specifically disclaim certain warranties for their products. When a consumer purchases this product (assuming there is some language on the product disclaiming these warranties), he is implicitly accepting this disclaimer and as such, cannot later bring a suit against the manufacturer or retailer for breach of warranty. Additionally, sometimes a manufacturer or retailer does include a warranty but also provides certain stipulations that must be adhered to for that warranty to apply. For example, one stipulation may be that a warranty is only valid for one year after the purchase date. If the Plaintiff tries to file a products liability claim based on breach of warranty three years after purchase, he will likely be unsuccessful.
Do You Have a Potential Products Liability Claim? Contact Our Personal Injury Firm
If you have a potential products liability claim and need to understand how to proceed, please don’t hesitate to contact Pita Weber Del Prado. Our Miami personal injury lawyers are eager to assist you today.