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Dangerous and Defective: Products Liability in Florida

October 23, 2017

Ford Motor Company released the Pinto in the early 1970s.  Now infamous, the Pinto’s gas tank was positioned in the rear of the vehicle, between the rear axle and rear bumper.  Rear-end collisions with the Ford Pinto led to fires, severe injury, and sometimes death.  Unlike other cars of that era with a similarly placed gas tank, the Ford Pinto was designed in such a way that it increased the risk of combustion.  Ford found a way to cut costs and developed a cost benefit analysis that compared the cost of improving safety versus the injury and death costs borne by society at large.  In short, through a series of legal battles, it was revealed that Ford knew the dangers inherent in their design and sold the Pinto to customers anyway.

Not all personal injuries are the fault of a particular person.  Widgets sold and distributed by large companies such as Ford are designed and manufactured by many employees where no one person is responsible.  These companies are held to account by filing a products liability action. Products liability is a generic phrase that refers to an area of law dealing with negligent suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers.  Plaintiffs pursuing a products liability action can bring suit under a number of legal theories: intent, negligence, strict liability, implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and express warranty or misrepresentation.  Bryan W. Crews is a personal injury attorney practicing in the greater Orlando are.  He and his staff will gladly evaluate the merits of your products liability case.

In general, to prove liability the plaintiff needs to show that the product was defective.  This defect must have existed when the product left the defendant’s control.  There are two types of defects.  A manufacturing defect occurs when a single product is different and more dangerous than if it had been made properly.  This occurs when there is a mistake in the manufacturing process itself.  The second defect is a design defect.  Design defects occur when the product is made according to manufacturing specifications, all products are identical, but they have dangerous propensities.  These dangerous propensities may stem from packaging, mechanical failures, or harmful materials.  A subset of design defects are inadequate warnings.  Some products such as prescription drugs and medical devices must warn end users of any risks.  The warnings have to be clear and complete.

Product suppliers owe end users a duty of reasonable care.  That duty is breached when the defect is something that does not usually occur without negligence, or when the defendant knew or should have known of enough facts to put a reasonable manufacturer on notice.  When this duty is breached, the plaintiff must show that the product was the cause of their injury.  Under a negligence theory, you may recover for personal injury and property damage.  However, some courts may not allow recovery under a negligence theory if there is only property damage.

As a consumer, we place great trust in the expertise of the companies that develop and sell everyday products.  When that trust is broken, consumers have a right under the law to seek just compensation.  The personal injury attorneys at Bryan W. Crews have been helping clients throughout Orlando seek recovery.  If you or a family member have suffered personal injury, lost wages, loss of consortium (the loss of a close family member or a spouse), then contact Bryan W. Crews today for an evaluation of your case.  We fight tirelessly for our clients and are ready to go to work for you.

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