Understanding Florida’s Product Liability Laws

Whenever we purchase an appliance, food, a vehicle, or any other consumer product, we expect and trust that it will be safe for us to use.  Unfortunately, defective products often manage to get into the consumer’s hands and cause personal injury or property damage.  If you recently suffered injury from using a defective product, you may be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit and recover compensation for the harm that was done to you and the financial losses that resulted from your injuries.

Every year, there are incidents in the state of Florida that give rise to product liability claims.  However, these claims are subject to the laws and requirements governing product liability cases and lawsuits.  Product liability cases are often complex so plaintiffs must understand what the details surrounding their case entail and what is involved in filing a product liability lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers manage to win such cases with considerable experience and ensure that their clients win the requisite damages.

Elements of a Product Liability Lawsuit

If you or a loved one were injured because of using a defective product, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim and product liability lawsuit.  A personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and familiarize you with what is required by law to win your case.  Product liability laws require that you prove the following elements:

  • You were injured when using a specific product and suffered losses in the process
  • The product you were using was defective
  • The defect caused your injury
  • You were using the product according to the instructions

Additionally, injury victims must adhere to Florida’s statute of limitations where product liability claims are concerned, which is 4 years for a personal injury and 2 years for wrongful death.  The discovery rule also applies in Florida product liability cases.  This means that the clock starts ticking the day the individual discovered or should’ve discovered the cause of the injury that gave rise to their case.

Pure Comparative Negligence Rule

Florida follows what is known as the “pure comparative negligence rule” which means that should the consumer be partially at fault for their injuries, the compensation they’re awarded will be a decrease in proportion to the percentage of the fault that is theirs.  For example, if the injury you suffered by using a defective product caused $150,000 in damages, but 30% of the fault was yours, the compensation you’re awarded will be reduced by $45,000.

To learn more about filing a product liability claim, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

Slip and Fall Accidents While on the Job

Whether you’re a nurse, a teacher, or work construction, Worker’s Compensation may be your only source of monetary recovery if you suffer injury by slipping and falling while on the job.  However, Worker’s Compensation claims often fall short of covering all damages such as loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering, etc..  These would normally be recovered in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Additionally, Worker’s Compensation makes it nearly impossible to sue your employer and win a personal injury lawsuit against them.  Our slip and fall lawyers would focus on potential liabilities of a 3rd party property manager, owner or other liable party and not your direct employer.

Premises Liability

Under personal injury law, slip and fall accident cases are a form of premises liability, a legal concept that refers to any injury that is caused by a defective or unsafe condition on another person’s property.  To win this type of personal injury case, the injured party or plaintiff must prove there was a failure to exercise reasonable care or negligence on behalf of the individual or entity that maintained or owned the property. The injury lawyers deal with such aspects regularly and represent clients with varying levels of injuries.

However, the existence of a dangerous condition or the occurrence of an injury doesn’t automatically mean that the owner of the property was negligent.  In most cases, you’re required to prove that the property owner knew or should have known that an unsafe condition existed but failed to address or correct the issue.  (The burden of proof for a slip and fall injury is found in F.S. 768.0755.)

Determining Liability / Proving Negligence

For a property manager or owner to be liable for the injuries you suffered by slipping and falling on their property, you must prove one of the following:

  • The property owner or one of their employees caused the dangerous or slippery area, the spill, or the torn or worn spot, or an item to be underfoot.
  • The property owner or one of their employees knew about the dangerous surface but failed to do anything about it.
  • The property owner or one of their employees should have known about the dangerous surface because a reasonable individual would have discovered it and either removed the item or repaired the spot.

Although the third scenario above is the most common, it is less clear-cut than the other two because of the phrase “should have known.”  For more information about slip and fall injuries that occur on the job, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group at (772) 569-8155 today.

Overview of Dog Bite Laws in Florida

Although we value our 4-legged furry friends as lifelong companions, their behavior will occasionally result in biting injuries with significant consequences for the victim.  When unexpected injuries occur, victims need to understand their rights under Florida’s dog bite laws and the responsibility of pet owners.

The Concept of Strict Liability

Whenever a personal injury case addresses dog bites and the owner’s liability, the state of Florida adheres to what is known as “strict liability.”  In other words, the victim only needs to prove that the animal acted aggressively towards them.  The framework for strict liability also states that the owner of the animal can be liable for any subsequent injuries, even if they were unaware of the dog’s potentially aggressive nature.

Furthermore, it also means that the victim typically doesn’t have to prove that their injuries resulted from the animal owner’s negligence.  In Florida, a dog’s owner can be held liable for the victim’s injuries if the victim was bitten while lawfully being on private property or in a public area.  Even if the victim was bitten under different circumstances, they can still file a personal injury claim against the owner.  However, they will have to prove that the owner failed to use reasonable care or was negligent. This includes instances if the dog was off the leash or bit the victim unprovoked.

The Importance of Hiring a Dog Bite Lawyer

Some dog bites are so severe that the victim needs immediate medical attention and is left permanently disfigured or scarred.  Incidences such as these require the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer that realizes the importance of pursuing a claim against the dog’s owner.  In addition to protecting the rights of the victim, there are several benefits involved when hiring legal representation for a dog bite, including:

  • access to valuable resources for gathering evidence and investigating the case
  • outstanding negotiating abilities
  • thorough knowledge of Florida’s dog bite laws
  • years of personal injury trial experience
  • you have your advocate

In addition to the owner of the animal, other parties may be held liable or responsible for the victim’s injuries including:

  • animal caregivers or keepers including dog babysitters, a pound, or a shelter
  • landlords who know the animal is dangerous
  • parents of minors if the dog is owned by an individual under 18 years of age
  • property owners who allowed the dangerous dog to stay on their property

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury and are unsure of your rights in the matter, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

What is Vicarious Liability in Personal Injury Law?

Vicarious liability refers to a situation wherein one party is partly liable or responsible for the unlawful behavior or conduct of a 3rd party which also is responsible for their share of said liabilities.  Vicarious liability arises in situations where one individual is supposed to have control over and be responsible for the actions of a 3rd party and is negligent in exercising that control and upholding that responsibility.

For example, an employer might be held responsible or liable for an employee’s unlawful actions such as discrimination or harassment on the job.  Additionally, an employer could be held responsible for an employee who carelessly operates a piece of equipment or machinery in a negligent manner and damages the property or injures another employee.

Examples of Vicarious Liability

If a construction worker doesn’t operate a crane safely and it knocks down the wall of an adjacent building that wasn’t supposed to be worked on, the company supervising the construction may be held vicariously liable for damages to the other structure.  If an engineer loses control while operating a locomotive and continues traveling down the tracks on its own, the company that operates and owns the train could face vicarious liability for any personal injuries or property damages caused by the runaway locomotive.

Although the employer, in either case, was not the one who mishandled the controls on the crane or lost control of the locomotive, they’ll be held liable for the employee’s actions.  Employers are supposed to limit and/or prevent any dangerous or harmful acts by their employees.  By exercising reasonable care and preventing such behavior, employers can avoid vicarious liability. Most of the cases that are handled by personal injury lawyers in Florida deal with some form of negligence and careless behavior that led to accidents.

Additional Considerations

There are other sources of vicarious liability as well, such as when a child behaves or acts negligently.  In this case, the parent would be held vicariously liable for their child’s behavior.  An example of this would be when a child injures or kills another person while driving a vehicle.  The parents could be held responsible for allowing the child to drive the vehicle.

As compared to Direct Liability

Direct liability refers to situations wherein a company or individual is liable to another based on their actions or omission.  In terms of personal injury law, it is the basis of an insurer paying on a claim.  In other words, the insurance company will only pay for injuries or property damages if the insured business or individual is directly liable.

To learn more about vicarious liability, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.