When a company creates a product for consumer use, it must follow specific safety protocols to ensure that the product is safe for the public. If the product causes you harm, you could be entitled to compensation.
At the Lucas, Macyszyn, & Dyer Injury Firm, we have years of experience protecting consumers from dangerous and harmful products. If a malfunctioning or poorly-designed product injured you, here are some points to know when determining whether or not you have a product liability case.
What You Need to Know About Product Safety Certifications?
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is a federal law with strict safety rules and requirements that manufacturers must follow when producing certain products.
According to this law, any product designed for children 12 years old and younger must have a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) before going on the market in the USA. This specialized certificate confirms that the product went through the required tests, including by a third-party laboratory; is made of non-toxic, safe materials; and is safe for use. All products intended for children must receive a CPC.
If a product is not for a child under 12 years old, it does not need to be certified. However, certain products may need another safety certificate called a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC).
The products that need a GCC do not have a user age requirement. However, like a CPC product, these products must meet certain safety measures.
Some of the products that require a GCC include:
- Bunk beds
- Cigarette lighters
- Bicycle helmets
- Drain covers for pools and spas
The required safety test type will vary from product to product. However, each product must meet a certain level of safety guidelines before it goes on the market.
Common Types of Product Injuries
When people purchase an item, they automatically assume that the product has passed rigorous testing to ensure its safety. And while there are certain federal regulations that manufacturers must follow, all products can malfunction or not work properly, leading to injury. Here is a look at some of the most common injuries people sustain after using a defective or malfunctioning product.
Any electrical device has burning potential if the wiring inside the device is faulty. Curling irons, game consoles, and other household appliances could catch fire or become too hot to touch if the wires are not properly insulated or correctly placed into the device.
2. Head Trauma
If a certain part on a bicycle, scooter, car, or other vehicle malfunctions, it could cause you to crash and suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can be a life-altering injury that affects how you work, think, and move. With about 176 people dying from a TBI every day, the CDC suggests that this injury is one of the country’s leading causes of premature death.
3. Internal Damage and Death
All drugs and medications sold in this country must undergo tests and trials to ensure they are safe to consume. Hundreds of thousands of people are injured every year from their medication. New medications may cause many health issues, including damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart. If proper guidance and instructions do not accompany the medication, the person could be seriously harmed or die.
4. Broken Bones
A product’s malfunction can break bones. Chairs, swing sets, bed frames, and other objects should display a weight capacity for the items. If a person exceeds the weight capacity, the product could break, leading to broken bones. If the person using the product did not exceed the weight capacity and it still breaks, the manufacturer could be responsible for the resulting damages.
5. Choking and Suffocation
Small parts on some toys are choking for toddlers and young children. For this reason, manufacturers must clearly label a toy if it has small parts and is for older children. The product should also clearly label if it contains a plastic bag or any other object that could obstruct a child’s breathing.
What Should I Do if a Defective Product injures me?
If a properly used product injures you, there are a few things that you should do as soon as possible.
Seek Medical Help
Immediately contact your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. The sooner you seek medical help, the more accurately you will be able to explain your injuries and justify them in a product liability claim, if necessary.
After visiting the doctor, get a copy of your medical records for the injury. If you had to have surgeries or physical therapy or stayed in the hospital, document every instance of your medical care.
Take pictures of any bruises or other injuries you sustained, and take photos of the malfunctioning product and any other damaged object.
The product is the key evidence in your claim. Never give it to the manufacturer. Give it to your lawyer.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney
Contact an experienced product liability attorney immediately. At Lucas, Macyszyn, and Dyer Injury Firm, we have the experience and knowledge to guide you through this difficult process. We will walk you through your medical malpractice claim and let you know what to expect. We can also gather evidence and conduct interviews to support the strength of your claim and promote a positive outcome in your favor.
Who Is the Responsible Party in a Product Liability Case?
This answer varies depending on several factors. First, we will look at what part of the product malfunctioned and why. We will then look at the distribution chain to figure out who caused the malfunction.
The manufacturer is at the very top of the chain of distribution. The manufacturer is often the first entity to look at whether a product causes an injury or review when something goes wrong with a product.
At the Lucas, Macyszyn, and Dyer Injury Firm, our experienced team can determine if more than one manufacturer should be held responsible for the product’s malfunction. For example, if a battery catches fire on your lawnmower, the battery manufacturer and lawnmower manufacturer could both be accountable for the resulting damages. Additionally, we can determine whether the manufacturer was negligent or if we should pursue a strict liability claim.
In Florida, retailers are also accountable for a product’s malfunction. Even if the retailer claims that it was unaware of the product’s danger, this excuse does not get them off the hook. Florida law dictates that a retailer has a legal duty to ensure that its products will not cause harm to its customers.
3. Wholesale Distributors
Wholesalers have the same responsibility as retailers when it comes to ensuring the safety of their products. In Florida, more than one entity can be responsible when a product causes you harm. For instance, the manufacturer, designer, and wholesaler can all be liable for your damages.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Cases in Florida?
In Florida, you have four years from the injury occurrence to sue a manufacturer or other defendant for damages. If you pursue a wrongful death case for a family member, you have two years from the date of death.
Do I Have to Own the Malfunctioning Product to Sue for Damages?
No. If a properly used product injured you, you could receive compensation. For example, if you rented heavy equipment and it malfunctioned, you can claim compensation for your medical bills and other expenses. A product should not harm anyone, whether they are the owner or not.
Do I have to Use the Defective Product to sue?
You don’t have to use the product when it injures you. If a tire flew off a car and hit you, you didn’t use the vehicle or the tire, but the tire injured you due to a malfunction.
Can I Sue For Damages if I Purchased a Used Defective Product?
Possibly. Your chances of a successful outcome are much better if the product has only had one owner. However, it is not impossible to win a product liability case if a pre-owned product injured you. The outcome of this lawsuit varies greatly from case to case.
How Do I Win a Product Liability Case?
Admittedly, product liability cases are not easy to win. However, when you team with an attorney with extensive knowledge in these specific cases, you have a much better chance for success.
Product liability cases are more difficult to win because they require a specific type of evidence.
To win the case, you will need:
- Proof that you properly used the product. For example, bicycles are designed for use while sitting on the seat and having both hands on the handlebars. If someone can prove that you were injured while riding the bike without having your hands on the handlebars, it’s hard to prove that the bike is the reason for your injuries.
- Proof that you sustained injuries. You will need to show how the product caused your injuries and/or property damage.
- Monetary losses. Did you have to miss work because of the damage caused by the product? Did you have to pay out-of-pocket for medical bills caused by injuries you sustained from the malfunctioning product?
- Proof that the product was defective. Look for any deformities or design flaws in the product. Also, see if the manufacturer has any warning labels on the product that signifies it could potentially cause harm.
If you live in the Wesley Chapel area and belief a product injured you, don’t hesitate to contact us at (813) 849-5353. At the Lucas, Macyszyn, and Dyer Injury Firm, we have extensive experience and understand what it takes to win product liability cases. When you contact us, we will determine if you have a case. If you do, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
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I would recommend Lucas Magazine for anyone who needs an attorney. Very knowledgeable and friendly. They saved me from having to pay out of pocket for a car accident. Plus my entire family uses them. They communicate very well and are always a phone call away. – steven derolf