Practice Areas

Wrongful Death Caused by Defective Products

Companies that make products for consumers – toys, medicine, vehicles, baby products and more – are responsible for ensuring those products work as intended. What’s more, manufacturers owe a duty to ensure products are safe and free from defects that would make them dangerous for intended use.

The Fort Myers wrongful death lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, know company guarantee to meet both standards with the simple process of transaction. These are known as “implied warranty of merchantability” and “implied warranty of fitness.” These are in addition to the “express warranties” the company may offer in writing.

When a product is used as intended and yet contains a defect proximately resulting in death, surviving loved ones can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against that company. As consumers, we pay for more than just the product. We pay for the product to be safe.

Unfortunately, we see defective products routinely lead to injuries, deaths, recalls and lawsuits.

Just look at what’s happened with the auto industry. GM recalled millions of vehicles for a faulty ignition switch that was connected to numerous deaths and serious injuries. Worse, the company reportedly knew about the problem for a decade before warning the public.

Then there was the Takata air bag defects, wherein the bags explode when deployed, firing debris into the faces, necks, chests and arms of those seated in the vehicle. There is evidence in that case too that the firm may have been aware of the problem for some time before sounding the alarm to consumers.

It doesn’t stop there. Consumer Reports notes 40 percent of all products recalled in a given year are children’s products. Those included drop-side cribs, sleep positioners, crib tents, baby monitors, car seats, flammable clothing and dangerous toys.

There were also bicycles, all-terrain vehicles, helmets, lamps, heaters, lawn mowers, fans – the list goes on. More than simply being defective, these products pose serious danger to the well-being of consumers.

Legal Theories in Product Liability Wrongful Death Cases

Breached warranties are just one legal theory on which a family could bring a wrongful death claim against a manufacturer.

Another possible legal theory is negligence. Plaintiff would need to show company owed a duty of care to decedent, company breached that duty and death of a loved one was the direct result. Failure to exercise ordinary care could be asserted through:

  • Negligent design
  • Failure to adequately inspect and test
  • Failure to provide adequate instructions, labels and warnings
  • Failure to issue an adequate recall notice

Negligent design means there was inherently wrong with the product that created an unreasonable risk or foreseeable injury.

In failure to adequately inspect and test, manufacturers – where practicable and effective – have a duty to inspect products for defects that create a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm. Most courts have ruled middlemen (retailers, wholesalers, etc.) have a duty to inspect goods they sell only when there is reason to know of a particularly defect. However, sellers who prepare, install or repair goods have a duty to inspect. Examples might include auto dealerships, HVAC installers and restaurants.

With failure to warn, there is an understanding that sellers and manufacturers must give appropriate warning when products they sell pose a foreseeable risk of harm. The major hurdles in these situations are determining whether there was a duty to warn (generic drugmakers, for example are often exempt) and whether the warning was adequate. If a risk is open and obvious, there is no duty to warn.

Failure to provide adequate recall notice means the manufacturer knew of a hazardous defect, and yet did not issue an adequate and/or timely recall.

Finally, consumers may also bring claims under the legal theory of strict liability. This holds that a manufacturer of any property sold as new, either directly or through a dealer, is liable irrespective of negligence to any person who uses, consumes or is reasonably affected when the condition of the product at the time of sale proximately caused the injury and/or death.

Even with all these options, proving a manufacturer made a dangerous product resulting in death is a challenge, usually involving complex litigation.

Our Fort Myers wrongful death lawyers believe in aggressively pursuing defective product claims for several reasons. First and foremost, we believe grieving families suffering a needless and devastating loss should be justly compensated for their pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.

Secondly, we believe succeeding in this realm keeps companies honest and striving to adhere to better practices, which in turn prevent future deaths.

Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.

Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation

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