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When is a manufacturer strictly liable for a defective product?

When a Florida resident is injured by a defective product, in some circumstances the law does not require that he or she prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer. Instead, the victim can proceed under the theory of strict liability.

Strict liability does not mean a manufacturer is liable for any injury that results from the use of its product. The victim must prove the product was unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. The product can be deemed unreasonably dangerous because of a design defect, a manufacturing defect or the manufacturer's failure to warn of its dangerous characteristics. In addition, the product at issue must not have been substantially altered form the condition it was in when it was purchased.

Strict liability arose because of the difficulty injured victims had in proving a traditional negligence case against the product manufacturer. The doctrine is a recognition that manufacturers are in a better position than the general public to know of potential product hazards, and to minimize these hazards through careful design and adequate safety warnings.

Strict liability makes it easier for an injured victim to hold a manufacturer liable for a product defect. Products liability cases are nonetheless complex, require expert testimony to prove liability, and are often aggressively defended by manufacturers and insurers. Manufacturers can avoid liability by showing that their product complied with federal safety standards, that the product was modified by the victim or a third party or that the victim used the product in a way that was neither intended nor foreseen by the manufacturer. Anyone injured by a defective product should consider working with a law firm with experience in this area of law.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault in a Product Liability Case," accessed Jan. 26, 2016

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