Types of Product Liability Claims in Florida: Design, Manufacturing, and Marketing Defects

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

We all expect products to be safe when we purchase them for ourselves or our children. Unfortunately, there are times when injuries occur as a result of using a product. Understanding the different types of claims that can be brought in such a situation is important to know what steps you should take next. We are writing this article to provide information that will help to explain the different types of product liability claims which arise in Florida.

Types Of Product Liability Claims

Product liability claims can be divided into three types. These claims stem from faulty design, faulty manufacturing, or defective marketing. We will discuss each of these in turn. 

Defective Design

A defectively designed product is one which is dangerous to end-users when it is manufactured in accordance with its original design specifications. Products can be defectively designed due to incompetence on the part of the designing individuals, a lack of internal quality controls, a failure to foresee possible use cases, and more. A product will be considered dangerous to the end user if they are put at risk while using the product as it was intended or in a way that it could be reasonably foreseen to be used.

Defective Manufacturing

Defectively manufactured products are those which are assembled or made in a way that is not consistent with the original design specifications. Such errors can stem from a manufacturer attempting to cut corners in order to save costs. They can also stem from manufacturing equipment not being set up or calibrated correctly, a lack of quality controls, or other negligence in the manufacturing process. Determining whether a product was defectively designed is one of the more objective inquiries in this area of law; it is a function of comparing how the item was assembled or made to the original specifications. Any discrepancy will show that the intended process was not followed. If that discrepancy can be shown to have caused the accident, then the manufacturer will face liability.

Defective Marketing

A product is defectively marketed when the advertising or promotion prompts individuals to utilize a product outside of its intended or foreseeable use case. This is the rarest type of context in which a product defect claim is brought. With that being said, such instances do occur.

The Various Types of Product Defect Claims May All be Interrelated

The three types of product defect claims mentioned above are often discussed independently of one another. The fact of the matter, however, is that there is often an interrelation between the companies who design, manufacture, and market a product. This can mean that each of the companies may share some level of liability for any of the three types of product defect claims.

Consider the following example. A toy company has a concept for a toy rocket launcher. They develop the design specifications internally. They also decide to outsource the manufacturing and marketing to two separate companies. The toy company’s engineers work closely with the engineering team from the manufacturer, and the same level of collaboration exists with the marketing company. A design flaw results in the launcher being dangerous when fired in too close of proximity to another person. The marketing also makes it appear that using the launcher in such a way would be safe. It is later shown that the manufacturing company had reason to believe the original design was defective but never raised the issue with the toy company. Under this scenario, the toy company would be liable for a faulty design. Also, the manufacturing company may face liability as they knowingly designed a dangerous product. Finally, the marketing company may face liability for implying the product was safe when, in fact, it was not.

While the outcome of any given case will always depend on the specifics of the matter, the foregoing example is meant to show that the interrelation between companies can lead to multiple forms of liability.

The Need For Expert Witnesses In Product Liability Cases

Product liability cases involve highly complex issues. Determinations as to whether the design, manufacture, or marketing of a product was defective will require the use of expert witnesses in most cases. Such witnesses can offer opinions as to whether proper safety precautions were taken as well as whether the design, manufacturing, or marketing process followed industry standards. The Court will not permit lay witnesses to offer testimony on such issues. Your attorney, therefore, will need to retain any necessary experts and will need to be experienced in dealing with such professionals.

Selecting an Attorney for Your Product Liability Case

When you are selecting an attorney to assist you, it will be important to select counsel who has experience in such matters and the resources necessary to handle such a case. Product liability cases involve highly complicated issues and numerous defendants. Failing to identify a possible cause of action or a possible defendant, can result in you receiving less than the amount of compensation that you deserve. Also, retaining a firm without adequate resources can result in counsel having to withdraw in the middle of the litigation.

When you are selecting a firm, we suggest you utilize the services of one which only practices in the area of personal injury law and which has experience in such matters. As part of the selection process, we suggest asking your prospective lawyer about similar cases they have handled. You should also make sure that the firm has the financial resources necessary to retain experts, conduct discovery, and more.

If you or a family member have been harmed by a defective product, then it is important that you retain a lawyer as soon as possible.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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