You may have seen or heard of the documentary Hot Coffee, which covered the Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurant case. This lawsuit is considered to be one of the most famous product liability cases in the United States.
Stella Liebeck ordered a cup of coffee from a McDonald’s drive-through window and spilled the entire cup into her lap. Because the coffee was so unreasonably hot, she suffered burns to over 20% of her body. This case was an example of product liability.
Companies are held liable for ensuring that the products they sell are safe. A product is considered unsafe or defective if a characteristic of the product results in it being dangerous when it’s used as intended. If the company didn’t prioritize customer safety and did not take the necessary steps to ensure safety in the design or manufacturing of the product, then they could be considered liable.
Our Khonsari Law Group team is experienced in handling medical product liability cases. If you suffered injuries from a faulty, defective, or recalled medical device, then you may have a product liability claim. The most common claims involving defective medical devices include:
– Medical Implants
– Contraceptive Devices
– Stents (tubes inserted into an artery to prevent or relieve blockage)
There are three types of product defects, and they can cover a broad range of situations based on interpretation. A product defect is the main component of a product liability case. The three types of product defects are:
Design – A flaw in the design of a product
Manufacturing – A flaw in the manufacturing of a product
Marketing – A failure to warn of possible dangers or insufficient instructions on usage
A defect alone is not all that is needed in a product liability case. One could claim that a product has a defect, but without one or more of the three elements below, you do not have a case.
Negligence means to fail to use proper or reasonable care, resulting in damages or injury to another. In order to prove negligence in a products liability case you must prove that:
1) The manufacturer failed to comply with a legal obligation to design and manufacture a safe product
2) The plaintiff suffered damages directly caused by the defect
Strict liability holds a party liable even if they were not at fault or negligent. It applies to situations that are dangerous by nature and requires potential defendants to take every precaution possible. If a person is injured even after taking all possible precautions, the defendant is still held liable. Strict liability is most common in cases involving dangerous animals or product liability.
Under Florida law, in order to make a product liability claim based on strict liability a plaintiff is required to establish three things:
1) Relationship between the manufacturer and the product
2) Defect which caused the product to be unreasonably dangerous
3) Defect caused the damages to the user
This differs from negligence because a plaintiff is not required to prove that the manufacturer was careless; they only need to prove that the product caused harm.
A warranty is a written guarantee made by the seller to the buyer promising to replace or repair a product if necessary within a specified timeframe. Warranties normally have special conditions or circumstances; for example, if you use a product for an unintended purpose and it breaks, then you may be in breach of the warranty. However, if you have a 10-year warranty on a product and it breaks down, but can’t be fixed or replaced because the product or part is no longer manufactured or obtainable, then the company is in danger of a warranty breach. There are two main types of warranties, implied and express warranties:
Implied Warranties are quality assurances that are provided by law. The two types of implied warranties are merchantability and fitness. An implied warranty of merchantability means that a product will perform the intended purpose it was designed for. An implied warranty of fitness states that if the seller knows how the buyer intends to use the product and suggests a product, then the seller is confirming that the goods are fit for that purpose as well. The product and its container are also required to meet certain standards of quality, including a standard of safety.
Express Warranties are promises or guarantees for a product made by the seller. They can be formed when a seller confirms a statement of fact about the goods made by the buyer. They can also be a description of the goods, a sample or model, tags attached to the product, or a claim made in public.
If you think that you have a product liability claim, contact our Khonsari Law Group team by either calling us or completing the Free Consultation form. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a claim and proceed with your product liability case.
“I am so glad that I was referred to Mr. Khonsari for help. From the beginning I felt better about my case. He always kept me informed and answered any questions I had. He did an excellent job and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I can’t thank him enough.”