Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Products

Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Products?

Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Products

As a consumer, you place a great deal of trust in the products you buy and the companies that produce them. It is not uncommon for a person to find one brand of a particular product and stick with it, essentially forming a relationship with that brand because it has proven itself time and time again. But what happens when the brands or products that we know and love—and trust—let us down?


Recently, Kraft recalled 6.5 million boxes of Mac and Cheese after consumers reported finding shards of metal in the boxes. A few months ago, a woman in Texas reported that she bit into a metal object while eating M&Ms. Unfortunately these are not isolated incidents. Accidents like these do happen from time to time, even from major companies like Kraft and Mars. But should major companies bear all the blame themselves?


If you have suffered in any way as a result of a defective product, you need to know that there are more parties involved than you may think.


Product Defects: Who is to Blame?


Generally, we think of defective products as corporations’ problems. If a consumer finds bits of metal in a box of Mac and Cheese, most people’s minds will jump first to Kraft, the company behind the product. But what about the store where the product was purchased? And what about the distributor that supplied the product to the store? Can these parties—or others—be held accountable? Yes, they can.


In fact, any party that is involved with a product before the product reaches the consumer can be held liable for a defective product. Typically, there are three parties who could be to blame:


  • The manufacturer
  • The wholesaler
  • The distributor


All of these parties can be equally liable in a defective product case. By selling their products, each of the above parties either explicitly or implicitly ensures the consumer that the product is safe and ready for use. If any supposedly safe product results in your harm or bodily injury, each or all of these three parties has essentially let down their end of the deal.


Receiving Compensation


South Florida Product Liability Attorney

A defective product claim may fall under one of three categories:


  1. Strict product liability, where a plaintiff does not need to prove direct negligence on the part of the manufacturer or seller but must only show that a certain product was defective
  2. Negligence, where the consumer must prove that he or she sustained harm as a result of a product failing to operate as it was supposed to
  3. Breach of warranty, where a consumer can show that a certain product performed in a way that went against its stated or implied warranty


Each of these categories comes with a number of nuances and details, all of which a knowledgeable attorney will be able to discuss with you in detail.


In a product liability case, it’s important to remember that your case is not about choosing one party to deem responsible and bear the brunt of the blame and all the associated consequences. On the contrary, it is simply about holding responsible parties accountable. To ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve and to ensure that the responsible parties improve their practices for the future, it is imperative that you take action.


If you have experienced a defective product that has caused you harm in any way, you deserve justice. Contact the lawyers at The South Florida Injury Law Firm today to start fighting for the compensation that you deserve.


Boca Raton Product Liability Lawyer

Defective Gifts May Cause More Than a Return Hassle

Boca Raton Product Liability Lawyer

The holiday season is over. We’ve all eaten too much horrible, delicious food, entertained relatives well past their expiration date, listened to Michael Bublé for the first time in a year, and (hopefully) found the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. Lights, trees, menorahs, and other artifacts of the season are soon to come down, if they haven’t already, and most of us are ready to move on.


But not quite yet. We’re still trying on new clothes and playing with toys made for kids of all ages, and many of us may even be planning a trip to the store to return or exchange something (remember to bring your photo ID, because this year retailers are really trying to crack down on return fraud).


And then there are those for whom the hassle of remembering to bring a license would be a luxury. They received something that ended up being defective. If they’re lucky, that just meant that it was broken in some way and didn’t do what they wanted. But if they’re unlucky, it’s quite possible that the defect in the product may have caused harm to them or someone they love. In extreme cases, people have even been killed by product defects.


What do you do if this has happened to you? Get in touch with a defective products attorney as soon as possible and document everything as thoroughly as possible. These kinds of cases can be complicated and contentious, so the more evidence you have and the earlier you can start building a case, the better off you are.


How Do You Know If a Product Is Defective?


Boca Defective Product Attorney

Dealing with a defective product can be scary, dangerous, and difficult, but there are ways that you can protect yourself and stay out of this situation. The first and easiest is to head to Recalls.gov and look to see if a product you have is on the list and why. But because a product doesn’t have to be recalled to be dangerous, and because companies sometimes fight back even after a recall is made, it can also be smart to do a Google search for problems with your specific item. You might be shocked to discover that several people have complained or written reviews about something that seems like a serious problem for a product that’s still readily available – this kind of thing happens all the time.


So, what should you look for if you’re worried about a particular product but there’s nothing out there – yet – that speaks to a specific problem with it? Since we’re talking about things received around the holidays, let’s take a look at toys specifically. Many toys will have labels warning you about potential problems, but often these are incomplete because the manufacturers simply don’t account for all of the creative ways that kids can hurt themselves.


Loose parts. If a toy easily comes apart – even if the effect is intentional – be wary. Small parts can be choking hazards, and large parts may end up causing cuts.


Zippered animals. Some stuffed animals come with zippers that allow access to the “stuffing” part of the toy. Presumably, this is so parents can easily refill the animal if the need arises, but it also provides easy access to young fingers, and if your little one gets the stuffing out, it’s going one of two places – on the floor, or in their mouth. If the latter occurs, it’s a choking hazard.


Cords. Lots of toys have strings or cords, and in theory they’ve been designed with strict safety standards mind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t accidentally strangle your child. Keep close watch.


Balloons. Why are balloons dangerous? You guessed it – because kids can choke on them. This is actually an incredibly problematic item, because even older kids can choke to death if a latex balloon gets caught in their throat.


Chemicals. Who puts chemicals in kids’ toys? Lots of manufacturers. Most people know to watch out for lead paint, but toxic chemicals have also been found in things like chalk, toy jewelry, and more.


West Palm Beach Product Liability Attorney

Electronics. All electronic toys are potentially dangerous because you likely won’t be able to tell if there is a manufacturing or design defect until it is too late and they suffer a burn or the device shocks them.


Anything small. Young children put things in their mouths. It’s a universal truth. So if they receive any gift with small parts that might lodge in their throats – especially parts that look enticing in some way – either keep them away or only let them use the toy in your presence.


Of course, it’s not possible to know about many defects in advance, and the vast majority of products out there are completely safe. The best thing that you can do is to keep an eye on toys – especially new ones – when your child is playing with them, and simply know your son or daughter. If they act oddly every time they interact with a specific toy, something is probably going on and you should talk to a skilled attorney.



Defective Product Lawyer Boca Raton

How Do You Know If You Have a Defective Product?

Defective Product Lawyer Boca Raton

Ideally, all consumer products that go to market have been thoroughly tested to prevent them from unexpectedly harming anyone. But occasionally something slips through the cracks; maybe the marketing team fails to include adequate instructions for the product’s use on its packaging, or a manufacturer just doesn’t realize that a small part on a child’s toy could come loose and become a choking hazard. But since product defects aren’t always obvious, how do consumers know if they have a defective product on their hands?


One of the most straightforward ways to find out if you have a defective product is to pay attention to product recalls. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not always do a very good job of broadcasting their recalls, so consumers need to take a proactive approach to discovering if they have any defective products. Concerned consumers should frequently go to Recalls.gov to search for recalled products by category or keyword.


But what if you don’t hear about a recall—or a company fails to issue a recall before you are harmed by one of their products? In that type of situation, how do you know whether you have a strong case against the company?


Proving Liability for a Defective Product


Proving Liability for a Defective Product

Fortunately, the people and companies who create and sell consumer goods are typically held to strict liability in defective product cases. This means that a plaintiff only has to prove that a consumer product is unreasonably dangerous in order to hold the manufacturer, designer, or marketer accountable. There are three main ways that a product may be found defective:


Product defects. Product defects affect an individual product rather than an entire line and typically occur at the manufacturing stage. For example, if a kitchen chair manufacturer failed to add several screws to one of their chairs and it collapsed when the person who purchased it sat down, that person could file a claim to recover compensation for their injuries.


Design defects. This type of defect affects an entire line of products, not just a single item. A relatively recent example of this is the defective ignition switch in certain GM vehicles that would unexpectedly turn off the vehicle’s power if a driver went over a bump or jostled their keys with their legs.


Marketing defects. There may not be a design or manufacturing issue with a product, but it can still be defective if it did not come with sufficient instructions and warnings for usage and a consumer suffered an injury as a result. For example, if a brand of sleeping pills did not come with dosage instructions, the company that produced and marketed the prescription drug could be found liable in the event of an overdose.


Res Ipsa Loquitor Cases


In some cases, a product defect is so obvious that a plaintiff would not even need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. Under the principal of res ipsa loquitor, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” the plaintiff must simply show that the product is defective and that he or she was injured by the product, and the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. Then, the defendant must prove that they were not negligent, rather than the plaintiff having to prove that the defendant was negligent. However, plaintiffs need to be careful about using this strategy, as the defendant may try to argue that if the defect was obvious, the plaintiff must have known of the danger and used it anyway.


If you are an accident victim and are unsure whether your injury was truly caused by a defective product, or are wondering how to show the court that a product is defective, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of The South Florida Injury Law Firm.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


5 of the Biggest Toy Recalls in the US

5 of the Biggest Toy Recalls in the US

5 of the Biggest Toy Recalls in the US

As a parent, you have to be careful what kind of toys you buy for your children. Small parts are out if your child is of an age where they want to stick everything in their mouth, and sharp edges are always a bad idea. In general, you need to be sure the toys you buy are age-appropriate for your child, and you probably determine that in part by the toy labels that tell you exactly what age range each toy is designed for.


But what happens when those toys aren’t as age-appropriate or safe as they claim to be? Unfortunately, toy recalls are all too common, and children’s products accounted for 42% of all recalls between 2006 and 2011. Here’s a look at 5 of the biggest toy recalls from the last few years, and what you should do if one of your child’s toys undergoes a similar recall.


Mattel Magnetic and Lead-Contaminated Toys. Lead is banned in US toys because of the associated health risks, but in 2007 toy giant Mattel was forced to recall 436,000 toys depicting characters from the movie “Cars” because the Chinese-manufactured products were covered in lead paint. At the same time, Mattel issued another recall for 18.2 million magnetized toys because they realized that the magnets posed a choking hazard for young children.Mattel vowed to monitor their Chinese contractors and subcontractors more closely in the wake of these huge recalls.


Aqua-Leisure Inflatable Baby Boats. As the name suggests, this product was designed to allow infants and toddlers to float in the pool. However, the straps that held the baby’s legs in place had a tendency to tear, allowing the young child to fall through. Although it eventually came to light that Aqua-Leisure knew about the problem since at least 2003, the company did not recall the product until 2009—after there had been at least 30 drowning deaths.


Aqua Dots. Aqua Dots were a popular type of arts and crafts bead in 2007, until the Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered that the beads were coated in a chemical that, when swallowed, would metabolize into gamma hydroxy-buturate (better known as the date rape drug). Children who ingested the beads experienced symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases even went into a comatose state, and Aqua Dots’ manufacturer was forced to recall the product.


Lawn Darts. As you can probably imagine, a toy with extremely sharp, weighted points that children could throw around the yard was never a good idea, yet lawn darts became a popular product in the 1980s. Lawn darts caused the death of at least 3 children, and they were actually banned in the US once in the ‘80s, but the manufacturer challenged the ban and was able to continue selling the product as long as they were only marketed to adults. A father who lost his daughter in a lawn dart accident eventually convinced the CPSC to ban lawn darts outright and pull them from store shelves.


Product Recall - Lawn Darts

Cabbage Patch Snacktime Dolls. Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but one type of doll that was designed to “eat” small snacks using a motor turned out to be seriously dangerous. The problem was that the motor was triggered not just by snacks, but by children’s hair and fingers, and there was no power switch to stop the doll from causing injury. Mattel announced a voluntary recall on the dolls in 1997.


Make Sure Your Child Isn’t Playing with Recalled Toys


Make Sure Your Child Isn’t Playing with Recalled Toys

Wondering if any of your child’s seemingly innocuous toys pose a potential danger? Unfortunately, product recalls aren’t always as widely promoted as they should be, so you may have to be proactive to determine if any of your child’s toys have been recalled. You can search for the product by checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission website or by using the Toy Recall Finder on Parents.com. If you discover that a toy has been recalled, get rid of it or return it to the company as soon as possible.


If your child is injured by a product that has either been recalled or should be recalled, seek medical attention and contact a personal injury attorney. Although it can be hard to think about taking legal action after your child has been harmed, filing a lawsuit against a negligent manufacturer may be the most effective way to ensure that your family receives compensation—and that the product is pulled from shelves before it can harm anyone else.