Defective Products

The U.S. is a nation of consumers. We have high expectations of the goods and services we purchase. We anticipate that goods will not only work as promised, but that it will be reasonably safe.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale defective products lawyers know that when items are defective, it’s not only disappointing but potentially very dangerous.

A product is defective when it was either:

  • Designed defectively
  • Manufactured improperly

Defective design occurs there was error or foreseeable risk in the way manufacturers and planned and produced the product. Defective manufacture is when one of an assembly line of products isn’t made according to specification, resulting in a defect that poses a danger.

When a consumer is injured as a result of using a defective product, there are a number of parties that may be held to account for release of an item that they knew or should have known was a risk to consumers. This includes not only the designer and manufacturer, but others within the chain of distribution.

Examples of Product Liability Cases

  • Automobiles. This could include the actual vehicle (i.e., a sport-utility vehicle or van that is top heavy and is perilously prone to rollover) or a vehicle part (such as a faulty airbag or ineffective seat belt).
  • Apparel. This would involve issues pertaining to fire resistance, hidden foreign objects, poor traction on footwear or items on children’s clothing that might cause choking or strangulation.
  • Asbestos. A deadly fiber that was heavily used in construction, auto manufacturing and other trades in the 20th century can cause lung disease (asbestosis, COPD) and terminal cancer (mesothelioma). Diagnosis typically does not occur until years after exposure. Many manufacturers were aware of the dangers, and chose to use the product anyway.
  • Cosmetics or Chemicals. When products intended for cleaning or pest control or other purposes cause harm to humans when used as intended, plaintiffs have to show the vendor or manufacturer knew or should have known the product was dangerous.
  • Food. Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1 in 6 Americans will get sick as a result of consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Some involve contamination caused by microbes, while others are the result of the presence of poisons or other substances. Proving liability can be difficult, though cases are made easier when a government agency has identified a specific food to a group of people made ill.
  • Tools and Machinery. These products can make life much easier for everything from cutting the grass to toasting bread. In some cases, items carry an inherent risk, and there is no other alternative way for manufacturers to make the product any safer while still ensuring effectiveness. In those situations, it’s a user beware situation. Consumers have to show the product was unreasonably dangerous when used as intended, they may have a case. There could also be grounds for litigation if the product was misused, so long as plaintiff can prove manufacturers could have reasonably predicted the product would be misused in that way.
  • Medical Products and Medical Devices. These can range from corrosive and toxic hip implants to a faulty oxygen tank. These cases require a legal team with extensive experience in handling these types of complex cases, which typically require multiple expert witnesses.
  • Pharmaceuticals. Makers of drugs in the U.S. have to conform to standards and regulations set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it comes to the manufacture, advertising and sale of medicine. A drug that conforms to these standards but is still defective, however, can still be the subject of a successful product liability claim.
  • Recreational Products. Items that are intended for entertainment – from roller coasters to playgrounds to board games – all must meet basic safety specifications. If a game has small parts that can cause a young child to choke, for example, manufacturers owe a duty to warn consumers about this fact and specify the age group for which the game is appropriate.
Theories of Product Liability

When a person is injured or dies as a result of using a defective product, it may be possible to hold accountable the:

  • Manufacturer
  • Wholesaler
  • Distributor

Ultimately, it will depend on the type of defect, whether it was a defective design or a manufacturing defect.

There may also be a potential claim for “Failure to Warn.” This involves a product maker or distributor that failed to provide instructions or warnings that likely would have prevented injury stemming from foreseeable risks.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires that warning labels:

  • Notify consumers of existing dangers
  • Notify consumers of how severe a potential risk may be
  • Notify the consumer of the effects of the known dangers
  • Notify the consumer how to avoid the danger

In filing a product liability lawsuit, there are generally three legal theories upon which these cases may be predicated:

  • Negligence. This involves proving careless design or manufacture of an item that resulted in injury. Plaintiff has to prove defendant owed a duty to market a safe product, that there was a breach of this duty and further that this breach caused the injury.
  • Strict Liability. Such cases require plaintiff only to show that a defect in the product exists and the defect caused plaintiff’s injury. Defendant’s knowledge of that defect is not necessary to prove.
  • Breach of Warranty. These claims require plaintiff to show defendant failed to make good on an express or implied promise – or “warranty” – to consumers. Plaintiff, who relied on this warranty, was harmed as a result.

If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered great harm as a result of contact with a defective product, call our offices today to learn more about whether your claim is actionable.

For information on legal action following a child injury in Fort Lauderdale, contact The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.