Strict Liability, a Key to Florida Law On Product Liability

Strict Liability is a major term for liability cases in Florida.  Not every state has this law, but it’s a very important issue in Florida.  Because Florida has this law of strict liability, people who have been hurt by defective products often focus their claims on this important legal theory.

Definition of liability emphasized by a magnifying glass

The stores have been swarming with back-to-school shoppers.  So, Metts Legal reminds consumers of the old “Let the buyer beware,” adage.  Consumer products are not always as safe or perfect as they seem when they are shining on the Big Box Store shelf in their glossy packaging.

You might remember that our previous Metts Legal blog introduced you to three major legal theories upon which to base defective product claims:  A. negligence, B. strict liability C. and breach of warranty.

In that article, we concentrated on negligence and touched on breach of warranty.  Therefore, It’s only logical that we now emphasize strict liability.

Unlocking the Meaning of Florida’s Special Strict Liability Law

If you are the person injured, you are designated as the plaintiff.  In Florida, you and your lawyer are not obligated to prove the legal accusation of negligence.  That might sound strange to you, but strict liability mandates that you do not need to prove negligence.

Allow us to re-state that concept:  You do not have to prove that the manufacturer or the vendor of a defective product was negligent or careless when they produced and sold it.

What You Must Prove in a Strict Liability Case

Strict Liability must show the product was defective.

Justice in Product “Strict Liability”

These are three premises you must show in accordance with your strict liability case:

  • Show the product was unsafe.  We remind you that all manufacturers and sellers are duty-bound to sell safe products.  The manufacturer and seller have a legal duty to produce and sell a safe product.  You, the injured party, are the plaintiff in the case.
  • Explain that you actually suffered an injury.  Show how the product injured you in spite of the fact you were using it properly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Prove it was the product that caused the injury.  Show that there were no extenuating circumstances or other products involved that could have caused the injury.

Theories That Win Strict Liability Cases

Again we remind you that if a product has injured you, please contact a reputable, experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you with your case.  He will advise you about the strength of your claim and the nuances of Florida’s strict liability law.

Then you and your lawyer will most likely follow one of the popular theories or strategies below to prove the unsafe product hurt you:

1. The Product has a Manufacturing Defect

The product you bought must comply with the design and specifications from the manufacturer.  If it does not do so, then obviously there has been some kind of mistake made during the manufacturing process.

You could not know the details of the manufacturing process.  This is a prime reason that Florida law protects you from the need to prove negligence.  In other words, you do not have to question the behavior of the manufacturer, only, but only show how unsafe the product was and how it injured you.

2. The Product has a Design Defect

A design defect, on the other hand, is found in a product that is manufactured according to the design and specifications.  But the design itself is flawed in some way.  This concept is best defined by example.

Strict Liability is key to liability cases in Florida.

The Law and consumer protection

One example would be the defective design of a large walk-in freezer that has no handle on the inside.  The freezer is a large “walk-in,” appliance. Thus normal usage mandates that people walk into it to store food on its shelves.  Obviously, the designer expected people to enter it.  However, what happens if the door accidentally closes?   To design it without a handle was unsafe.  The designer could have made it easily and affordably safer with a handle on the inside.  

For a case of strict liability, you don’t have to prove the designer or manufacturer was careless or vicious.  The design flaw is enough.  You simply have to prove the product injured you.  Metts Legal wants you to know that in a state with Strict Liability Laws, you don’t have to prove the manufacturer was negligent, just show the flaw of the design.

3. The Product Has a Warning and Instruction Defect

Creating a product goes beyond design and manufacture.  Once created, the product must have instructions, labels and warnings.  This is all part of the typical marketing procedure.  The heart of this matter is that manufacturers have a duty.  He must give you warnings about the dangers of a product.

They must print the product warnings clearly.  Plus, they must place the cautions precisely where consumers will see them.  Likewise, they must also give clear careful step-by-step directions on safe use of the product.  For example, if it is not safe to use nail polish remover near an open flame, then the label must clearly indicate it.

4. Unavoidably Dangerous Products

Dangerous products surround us.  And some of them are inherently dangerous by the very nature of their being.  Obvious examples would be drain cleaner and knives.  They are dangerous items.  They must be that way to do the jobs for which they are designed.

Manufacturers and sellers don’t have to warn about dangers that are obvious to the user.  But, they must warn about any unique and unusual dangers.  They are duty-bound by law to list only dangers the average consumer would not reasonably expect to know. 

5. Entrepreneurs, Beware.  Know  the View from the Other Side of the Law

This information has been geared toward consumers.  But the information concerning strict liability and defective product lawsuits is just as important if you are in business.  Metts Legal knows that in this day and age, many consumers become entrepreneurs, almost overnight.  If you become an owner of a small business which designs and makes consumer goods, Metts Legal advises you to be aware of consumer protection laws and laws such as this article’s topic, strict liability.  We also advise you to take a look at this brief article, addressed especially to owners of small businesses.

Your Strict Liability Take-Away

Metts Legal encourages consumers to become more aware of Florida laws and principles such as strict liability.  If a product injures you, we encourage you to see us at Metts Law as soon after the injury as you can.  There are time limits on how long you can wait before beginning your claim.  We realize such a situation can be intimidating, considering the size of some manufacturers and their legal teams.  However, we are champions of justice, and if a company injures you with a defective product, we fearlessly and expertly defend your right to legal recourse.

Thank you for reading the Metts Legal Blog on strict liability this week, and we hope you return to us next week for more legal news and information.

Spread the word. Share this post!