The Three Types of Defective Product Claims in Florida
Manufacturers have a duty to design, make, and sell products which are fit for their intended purposes and safe to use. In fact, if a product causes injury, the manufacturer may be strictly liable for damages. In other words, victims need only prove cause to obtain compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
In Florida, there are basically three types of product liability claims. Defective metal-on-metal hip implants (MoM) illustrate all three kinds of cases.
First, a brief background. In 2008, professional golfer Tom Watson received an artificial left hip. In 2009, he nearly won the U.S Open. His story convinced millions of people to look into cutting-edge MoM hip implants. They had no idea these implants were dangerously defective. Thousands of lawsuits later, some victims are still fighting for fair compensation in court.
The hip is a cup-and-socket joint that moves in various ways and remains extraordinarily strong. Until the early 2000s, doctors used plastic-on-metal implants. These gadgets had plastic cups and metal sockets. As a result, they wore out after perhaps ten years. Now there is metal-on-metal (MoM).
Zimmer and other MoM manufacturers proclaimed that the new all-metal implants could last forever, since metal does not wear out nearly as quickly as plastic.
But these engineers overlooked a critical design flaw. The metal parts grind against each other every time the victim takes a step. Over time, these microscopic metal fragments build up and cause metallosis, or metal poisoning.
Sometimes, the resulting infection causes the hip implant to fail prematurely. In these cases, the victims often lose whatever mobility they had before.
Other times, the metal fragments migrate to internal organs, like the kidney and liver. There, they cause a number of serious illnesses.
This design defect is especially a problem for very active people who move around a lot over a number of years. If the patient is more sedentary, the metal fragments may never accumulate as much.
Nevertheless, the design defect sometimes rears its ugly head in these cases. A manufacturing defect may come into play as well. Some MoM implants come from foreign countries where there are not as many regulations regarding medical devices. So, some hip implants contain cheap materials with high levels of cobalt and other dangerous heavy metals. These substances may cause various health problems.
Legally, the product manufacturer is responsible for any defects which occur before the product arrives on store shelves. That includes not only design defects, but also defects which occur during the manufacturing or shipping process.
Failure to Warn
Many times, manufacturers know about design or manufacturing defects, yet they do not warn consumers. Instead, they put profits before people. In other situations, the product is inherently dangerous. Fireworks and firearms are two good illustrations. In all these cases, manufacturers have a legal duty to warn consumers about known risks.
Not just any warning will do. The label must be large enough, and clear enough, to catch the consumer’s attention. Furthermore, the warning itself should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
Failure to warn claims often involve significant punitive damages. These additional damages punish wrongful conduct and deter future misdeeds.
Contact Tenacious Lawyers
Product makers have a legal duty to sell safe and effective products. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa products liability attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.