3 Types of Product Liability Claims in Florida

In Florida, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers can be held liable for dangerous products that cause injury. Product liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Strict liability means the manufacturer can be held responsible for injuries their product caused even if they were not negligent or careless.

There are three main types of product liability claims you can bring under these legal theories, as discussed below. 

1. Defective Design

A defective design is a fundamental flaw in the product’s design that makes it inherently or unreasonably dangerous. This type of product defect focuses on the initial design approved for production. 

When a product’s design is inherently dangerous, it does not perform as safely as a reasonable person would expect when:

  • It’s used as intended, 
  • It’s used in a way the manufacturer reasonably could have foreseen, or
  • The risk in the design outweighs the benefits. 

An example of a design defect is a metal-on-metal (MOM) hip implant. These implants had a design that released tiny metal particles that caused metallosis (metal poisoning), pain, and other side effects. Another example is a power tool designed without a safety guard to prevent injury. 

The Ford Pinto is an infamous example of a bad product design. The Pinto had a poorly designed gas tank that caused fires when the car was rear-ended. 

2. Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defects happen when a product is made incorrectly, making it unsafe to use. This kind of defect doesn’t mean the whole design is bad; the product design itself is usually safe. However, a mistake occurred during production, and the product reached the consumer with a dangerous flaw in the manufacturing process. 

Defects in manufacturing can include: 

  • Substandard materials
  • Missing or incomplete components 
  • Improper assembly or installation
  • Incorrectly machined or manufactured components
  • Improper calibration or programming
  • Contamination

Manufacturing defects can make drugs dangerous through contamination, errors during bottling, or improper storage. For example, the generic drug valsartan, a common hypertension medication, was contaminated in many formulations from multiple manufacturers. The defective drug contained NDMA, a probable carcinogen. The contamination was traced to defective manufacturing from one of the main suppliers of the active ingredient.  

3. Marketing Defect (Failure To Warn)

Marketing defects happen when the product’s labeling or instructions do not inform consumers of potential risks associated with the product’s use. These cases are usually called “failure to warn.”

Warning defects occur when there is some inherent danger to the product, such as flammability or a choking hazard that is not immediately apparent. For example, a manufacturer does not need to warn that a knife is sharp and the blade may cause injury. Manufacturers aren’t required to warn of all possible risks, only those that they can reasonably discover. Generally, manufacturers need to warn of dangers when using the product as intended or in ways the manufacturer can reasonably anticipate the product will be used. 

Failure to warn claims are common with prescription medications. A manufacturer may be liable if they fail to warn about side effects, risks, and complications they know about or have reason to suspect. 

A classic example of failure to warn involves the tobacco industry and the risks of smoking, which were known for many years but concealed. 

Another example is the case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s. Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns and permanent disfigurement and required skin grafts after spilling coffee on her lap. McDonald’s served coffee at 185 degrees, a temperature unsafe to drink, as a franchise-wide policy. At that temperature, it causes third-degree burns after two to three seconds of skin exposure. 

This case represents a dangerous defect in manufacturing or a flaw in how the coffee was made. It’s also an example of failure to warn.

Call a Florida Product Liability Attorney For Help With Your Claim

Product liability cases are incredibly complex, no matter the type. If you have been hurt by a dangerous product or drug, you may be entitled to compensation. You have a limited amount of time to pursue your claim due to the statute of limitations

Call the law office of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with a St. Petersburg product liability lawyer to discuss how we can help you.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
(727) 349-1728