Liability When Manufacturers Fail to Warn About Product Defects
If you have been hurt by a defective product, you may be entitled to damages under the legal theory of strict liability. Under this theory, you don’t have to show that the manufacturer was negligent; you only need to show that the defect existed and caused you harm. Three types of claims are:
Manufacturing Defect ClaimsA manufacturing defect claim basically asserts that a given product's mechanical creation has resulted in a defect. The product itself may be reasonably designed, but shortcuts or mishaps during the manufacturing of the product quite commonly lead to the creation of defects. For example, if a manufacturer uses a cheaper plastic to manufacture a valve than what the design calls for, then the product may expose users to an unreasonable risk of injury.
Design Defect ClaimsDesign defect claims expose all users to an unreasonable risk of injury, regardless of how the product is manufactured. For example, a blender that simply does not feature a blade safety mechanism could be considered defectively designed.
Failure to Warn ClaimsA manufacturer can be found liable for failing to warn of certain foreseeable risks of harm relating to the product at-issue. Users who are adequately warned of the risks in using the product can take measures to avoid harm. For example, if a product represents a fire hazard, then the user can take steps to ensure that the product is turned off whenever it is not being actively operated.
As with all product liability claims, the state of Florida imposes strict liability with regard to failure to warn claims -- plaintiffs therefore do not need to show that the manufacturer was negligent in failing to warn users.
To better understand how failure to warn works, let's take a closer look at how liability is specifically applied under Florida law.
Florida Standard Jury Instruction 403.8 provides a concise summary of the law. Specifically, 403.8 provides that a product is defective when the foreseeable risks of harm from the product could have been reduced or avoided by providing reasonable instructions or warnings, and the failure to provide those instructions or warnings makes the product unreasonably dangerous.
What constitutes "reasonable" varies depending on the context. A reasonable instruction for a knife may not necessarily include a guide on various cutting techniques. On the other hand, reasonable instructions for a complex tool (i.e., a leaf-blower, chainsaw or power drill) might include a short step-by-step guide on startup and use. As the litigation process begins, your attorney will work with you to identify unreasonable aspects of the product's warnings and instructions that can be used to support your claim.