Product Liability FAQ

William E. Johnson is a preeminent trial lawyer with decades of experience in product liability law. Here is some important information about product liability from your South Florida attorney.



What is a "Defective" or "Unreasonably Dangerous" product?

A product is unreasonably dangerous or defective if it fails to perform in a manner reasonably to be expected in light of its nature and intended function.

Products can be defective and unreasonably dangerous in any of three ways. First, a product may contain a manufacturing flaw. Second, the product may be defectively designed. Third, the product may have an information defect such as inadequate warnings, directions or instructions.

Manufacturing Defects

A particular unit of a product may be defective because of an imperfection resulting from some miscarriage during the manufacturing process. Examples include an automobile with defective brakes or an imperfection in a surgical rod.

Design Defects

A product may be defective because its design renders it unreasonably dangerous. In that case, all units of the same design are defective.

Defective Warnings and Instructions

A product also may be unreasonably dangerous because of a failure to adequately warn of a danger or a failure to adequately instruct on the proper use of the product. When a danger is obvious and generally appreciated, there is no duty to warn of that danger. A defendant has no duty to warn of risks of which it neither knew nor should have known at the time the product was manufactured.

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Who May Be Strictly Liable?

To be subject to strict product liability, a defendant must be engaged in the business of placing such products in the stream of commerce. Any person in the chain of distribution of a product, including the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and commercial lessors may be strictly liable for any defect. Whether a strict liability action may be maintained against the distributor of a product depends upon the specific circumstances of that distribution and status of the manufacturer.

Although strict product liability generally extends to sellers of all products, strict liability may not extend to sellers of used products under certain circumstances such as when the sale is an isolated sale and not something that the seller was in the business of distributing.

Negligence Actions for Defective Products

In addition to the law of strict liability, actions may be brought against product manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers or commercial lessors based upon their negligence. A product manufacturer has the duty to exercise reasonable care and caution in the design, manufacturing, warning and distribution of its products. The suppliers, distributors and retailers have a similar duty to exercise reasonable care and caution in the sale of the product. A failure to exercise such care is negligence. A plaintiff may recover for injuries suffered as a result of such negligence of a product manufacturer for the injuries proximately caused by the negligence.

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We have experience handling complex product liability actions against product designers, manufacturers and distributors. If you believe you have been injured as the result of a defective product, please contact our office for a free case evaluation.