When you buy something, you trust that it’s safe and reliable. Most of the time, the products you buy do their job. But sometimes, products fail. Whether a defect is due to a defective design or poor manufacturing, bad products can hurt or even kill consumers.
Product liability laws give consumers a way to hold manufacturers, distributors, and other parties accountable for their defective products. But like many Florida consumers, you may have questions about the elements of a product liability action. It’s also important to understand what the Florida products liability statute of limitations is. Grossman Attorneys at Law has created this guide to help you better understand some of the basics of product liability actions in Florida and when you will need a top rated accident attorney in Boca Raton.
What Is a Product Liability Action?
When a defective product injures a person, a product liability action arises. Product liability actions are typically due to a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or a failure to warn. Breach of warranty, strict liability, negligence, and nuisance are possible grounds for a product liability action.
A manufacturing defect occurs when an error or oversight in the manufacturing process causes the product to become compromised. For example, if a machine that manufactures brake calipers were to malfunction, the defective calipers could cause a car crash.
A design defect occurs when the design of a product itself is what causes it to become defective. A poorly designed product may malfunction and cause injury. An example is a poorly designed airbag that causes severe burns to passengers when it activates.
Failure to Warn
Sometimes the problem isn’t the product itself, but the manufacturer or distributor’s failure to warn about the dangers inherent to the product. The product may be relatively safe if used correctly, but without proper instructions or warning, it becomes dangerous. For example, a medication that interacts with alcohol should have a warning. Failure to warn of that interaction could lead to serious harm to consumers.
What Is the Florida Product Liability Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations dictates the time you have to file your lawsuit. The Florida limitations period is different depending on whether you are filing a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim.
For a product liability action, the Florida product liability statute of limitations is four years. For example, if you buy a propane grill that causes a serious burn to your arm, you have four years from the date of the injury to file the lawsuit
For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years. Using another example, if a defective tire caused a person’s death, the survivors would have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations time period begins when you discovered or should have discovered the injury giving rise to the lawsuit. This does not always mean the clock starts the day the injury occurs. For example, slow-growing cancer caused by a product could take years before it is reasonably discovered. In a situation such as this, the statute of limitations wouldn’t begin to count down until the discovery of the cancer.
Statute of Repose
In addition to the statute of limitation periods discussed above, Florida also has a statute of repose. The statute of repose prohibits product liability actions more than twelve years after a product with an “expected life” of ten years or less reached its first purchaser. In Florida, all products have an expected life of fewer than ten years except for certain commercial airplanes, railroad equipment, and vessels. Such planes, vessels, and trains have an expected life of twenty years. The statute of repose prevents people from filing lawsuits over products that are decades old.
Does Anything Stop the Statute Of Limitations?
Yes! Certain circumstances will “toll” or pause the statute of limitations time period. If a defendant in a product liability suit has left the state or is hiding so they can’t be found, this may pause the limitations period until the person can be located in the state. When the victim was legally incapacitated before the injury, this also tolls the limitations period. In this case, the lawsuit must take place within seven years of the act which caused the injury.
Some events also toll the repose period. The repose period is paused when the harm is caused during the period, but the injury or illness did not become evident until after the period had expired (see the above cancer example). The repose period is also tolled when the manufacturer had actual knowledge that the product was defective and took steps to purposefully conceal the defect.
Consult a Florida Product Liability Attorney
Trying to figure out the Florida statute of limitations for product liability can be a difficult task. That’s why it is important to speak to an experienced Florida product liability attorney about your claim.
If a defective product has harmed you or you need to know more about the Florida product liability statute of limitations, then contact Grossman Attorneys at Law. Our skilled litigators have the knowledge and experience needed to guide our clients through the process of filing a product liability action.