While consumers have the right to be protected from products that can cause them harm, too often businesses are forced into defending themselves from false product liability claims.
The deck is stacked against businesses who find themselves defending against product liability claims in Florida. Let’s explore the challenges:
Unequal fee structures
Malicious or greedy consumers are often lured into making claims on a “contingency” fee basis. This means that they are not required to make a payment to their lawyer unless they win the case against the business that manufactures or distributes the product. If they win the case, then the legal fees are paid from the settlement or court-awarded amount.
By contrast, businesses who are defendants in false product liability cases are faced with legal fees from the start. Win or lose, businesses are required to foot the cost of their legal defense. This creates an unequal, consumer-friendly legal environment that penalizes the defendant before the case even begins.
Florida is a strict liability state meaning that is it possible that a business can be liable for damages even in cases where there is no fault, negligence or intention. In other words, the liability is due to the business’ position of simply being the manufacturer or distributor of the product that allegedly caused the harm.
Under the doctrine of strict liability it is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was not acting in good faith, nor is it possible for the defendant to claim no liability on the basis of acting in good faith. This makes it easy for plaintiffs in product liability cases and is another example of the consumer-friendliness of the law in Florida.
While the legal challenges facing businesses in the product liability practice area are real, they are not without their solutions. If you are suddenly hit with a product liability lawsuit there are was to reduce the impact of the cost differential and mount a successful defense. Here’s how:
A solid legal defense is the way to win a case when the legal framework is not set in your favor. This requires attention to detail and senior-level involvement at all times. Usually, in the larger law firms, it can be so prohibitively expensive to use partner-level resources that most cases are tried by lawyers with limited experience. Even with the most junior attorneys on the case, the big firm fees can still quickly mount, making using a big well-known firm costly and of uncertain quality.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that businesses facing product liability claims to seek out a boutique law firm with outstanding credentials in the product liability practice area. Are you facing a legal challenge that requires you to mount a product liability defense? A boutique firm will put partner-level expertise on your case for the duration of your defense, giving you the advantage you need for the best possible chances of success. In addition, you will be paying lower fees than if you went with a big well-known firm. With a boutique law firm, you will essentially be receiving a better level of service for a more affordable price. This puts you in an advantageous position that can help you better manage the cost differential between what your legal opponent is paying (a contingency fee) and the fact that you are expected to pay out of pocket for your legal fees.
“A boutique firm will put partner-level expertise on your case for the duration of your defense”
Effective Defenses vs Strict Liability
Florida’s strict liability does not always prevent the defendant from being unable to mount a successful defense. In a well-defended product liability case, the manufacturer or distributor is entitled to many defenses. These include misuse, where the plaintiff’s misuse of the product prevents them from seeking damages for injuries that result from the misuse and assumption of risk, where the risk associated with a certain product was known to the plaintiff who nonetheless chose to assume that risk and use the product anyway. Other defenses might include evoking the statute of limitations, which in Florida is four years for injuries sustained due to an alleged defective product and two years for wrongful death cases.
South Florida Law
At South Florida Law, we are committed to helping manufacturers, distributors and insurance companies manage their risk with proactive legal advice regarding claims related to product liability. We help our clients avoid unnecessary liability and legal actions that can negatively impact profitability and business continuation. Although it is best to be brought in as legal counsel prior to a claim, we have the big firm resources to aggressively defend against legal opponents in litigation and arbitrations should legal action be taken against our clients. At the same time, we provide personalized service and attention to detail in your case at a price point that can only be achieved with a boutique firm of our size. Is your company faced with challenges related to product liability claims? Are you facing legal action as a result of a consumer’s negligence or a frivolous claim? Call South Florida Law today on (954) 900-8885 or reach out to us via our contact form.