Florida Defective Product Liability: Who is Responsible?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Product manufacturers and sellers are responsible for placing reasonably safe goods on the market. They are liable for damages, not only to the purchaser of the product but also to anyone who might reasonably be expected to use the product. For example, the manufacturer of an inflatable floating ring could anticipate that the child of a friend or relative might use it, as well as the child of the purchaser. On the other hand, though it might be foreseeable that someone who purchases a drug with a prescription will give some of those drugs to someone else, because that would be illegal, the drug manufacturer would probably not be held liable for any injury to the person taking the drug without a prescription. A product must be used for the purpose intended.

Anyone who is in the business of selling a product can be a defendant (the person being sued) in a product liability case. This includes the manufacturer and the sellers, both wholesale and retail. Product liability cases are usually based on one of two legal theories: strict liability and negligence. Your Florida product liability attorney can advise you on the best theories to use and defendants to name.

Strict Liability. Strict liability is a special legal theory that allows plaintiffs to recover damages without proving that the defendants were negligent or careless. If the defendants placed a defective or unreasonably dangerous product on the market, and the defect causes an injury, that’s enough. The plaintiff (the person(s) suing the defendant) may not even have to show how the product was defective if she or he can prove that the product was used in the way it was intended to be used and it still caused an injury.

Negligence. In a negligence case, the plaintiff has to show that the defendants were careless in producing or marketing the product and that their negligence led to the injury. Negligence is often used as a legal theory along with strict liability.

Sometimes there is a question of whether the plaintiff was also negligent and therefore contributed to his or her own injury. The law used to be that if the plaintiff was negligent at all, he or she couldn’t recover any damages. This rule, called contributory negligence, often led to unfair results. Most states have now adopted a rule of comparative negligence, where the plaintiff can still collect a portion of the damages, even if he or she was partially to blame. Florida has adopted the comparative negligence rule. So for example, if a plaintiff was 20% negligent, he or she can only collect 80% of the damages suffered from the defendants.

There are a few other legal theories that are used in product liability cases. Breach of warranty is a theory that the manufacturer or seller breached a contract with the purchaser by producing or selling a product that was not fit for the purpose it was sold to do. Fraud and misrepresentation are sometimes used in cases were there has been dishonesty in marketing. Successfully proving these claims might help a plaintiff receive punitive damages if they are available in the case. See Florida Product Liability Damages for more information about the types of compensation available in product liability cases.

If you would like to have your case evaluated by an experienced Florida product liability attorney, fill out our case evaluation form at no cost or obligation.

Check out the following articles for more information about Florida product liability, filing a Florida product liability lawsuit and finding a Florida product liability attorney.

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