As the holidays approach, families across the state of Florida are preparing to give gifts to their loved ones. More often than not, these gifts are beautiful gestures of our love.
Unfortunately, not all gift swaps go as planned. Defective gifts can quickly turn a wonderful holiday into a painful trip to the emergency room.
It’s not just lithium batteries and baby toys that are unsafe. Even the safest gifts can cause injury. Over 345,000 people went to the hospital for injuries due to clothing, for instance.
We’re not saying that you should refrain from giving gifts this holiday season. Just be aware of what steps to take if you are injured by a defective holiday gift. You may wind up needing to file a product liability lawsuit.
How Florida Defines a Product Liability Lawsuit
Product manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting dangerous or defective products on the market. They must adhere to certain standards in order to keep customers safe.
This doesn’t always happen, though — especially when an item is hot on the market and manufacturers want to put it on the shelves.
Failure to properly test a product or other types of negligence can directly cause injury and financial damages. In these cases, victims can ask the manufacturer for compensation in a product liability lawsuit.
Types of Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability lawsuits often fall under one of three categories:
- Design defects
- Failure to warn
- Manufacturing defects
Preparing Yourself for an Uphill Battle
Taking action against a big manufacturer can feel like an uphill battle. However, there are several steps you can take to prepare. Having all of the information you need will ready your attorney to win your case faster.
Step 1: Get Treatment for your Injuries (And Copies Of Your Bills)
First and foremost, get treatment for your injuries. Even if your symptoms are not too severe, visit a healthcare professional and document the experience.
In order to win a product liability case, you will need to prove that the defective product directly caused injuries.
Product liability cases also require that you show a direct link between your injuries and financial damages. Take thorough notes on how much the injury costs you.
How much are you paying in medical bills? How much time did you have to take off of work to recover? Will the injury affect your insurance premiums?
Step 2: Take a Good Look at the Product’s Warning Labels
In order to win a “failure to warn” lawsuit, you will also have to explicitly show that the product manufacturers did not warn customers about the dangers of the product. Re-read the warning labels on the product and the instruction manual.
Did you use the product as instructed by the manufacturers? Did you fail to heed any warnings? The answers could severely affect the outcome of your case.
If you don’t have a copy on-hand, it’s usually fairly easy to find one online these days. Print a copy and keep it with your files, as well.
Step 3: Take Notes On Your Experience with the Product
Florida allocates damages based on the rules of comparative negligence. If a product manufacturer can prove that you were somewhat liable for your injuries, the judge may reduce your award.
Writing down specific notes about where you were and how you used the product before your injury can help protect you from that.
Did you notice anything strange about the packaging that the product came in? When did you buy it, and how soon did you use the product? What did you do with the instruction manual?
Even if these notes show that you could have been liable, hand them over to your personal injury lawyer. The more details they have, the easier it will be to build a solid case.
Step 4: Check For Product Recalls and Class Action Lawsuits
Products may not be pulled off the shelves immediately. Check online periodically to see if the product has been recalled.
If the defective product was a tire, car seat, or other equipment for a motor vehicle, you can check for recalls here. Otherwise, you can check on Recalls.gov.
You can also report incidents with the products directly on the website.
Defective products that caused numerous injuries may be at the center of a class-action lawsuit. You can check to see if you qualify online.
Floridians Injured By a Gift Last Year Can Still Take Further Action
Defective gifts don’t always cause injury right away. You might not immediately hear about product recalls or class-action lawsuits, either.
Florida gives victims four years to file a product liability suit. (If the defective product caused a wrongful death, victims’ families have two years to file a suit.) These suits can take time, so take action sooner rather than later.
Ready to file a product liability lawsuit? Talk to a Florida personal injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.