Florida Products Liability: Senate Passes Tort Reform Legislation That Could Limit Payouts from Manufacturers of Defective Autos

Last week, the Florida Senate approved a bill that could make it harder for victims to obtain Florida products liability compensation from manufacturers. Sen. Garret Richter’s, R-Naples, “crash worthiness” bill mandates that juries consider everyone who may have been at fault in contributing to an accident, not just a product maker. The bill is geared towards limiting car manufacturers’ liability for auto defects that cause injuries or death in a Florida car crash. A companion bill is now making its way through committees in the Florida House.

Under current state law, juries for Florida products liability cannot consider evidence regarding the fault of the person that actually caused the accidents. They can only consider evidence related to the manufacturer’s fault in a product’s defect.

If this bill becomes law, it would reverse the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co. in 2001. That auto products liability case involved teenager Clifford Harris, who sustained serious burn injuries and lost three limbs when the 1988 Ford Escort that his drunk friend was speeding in struck a tree and then caught fire.

Harris’s mom filed a Florida auto products liability complaint against Ford. She said a relay switch failure contributed to the vehicle catching fire. While a jury ruled in Ford’s favor, the state’s highest court reversed the decision. This precluded juries from looking at evidence involving the party that caused the accident. In this case, it would have been Harris’s friend.

Critics are worried that this latest bill would make it easy for manufacturers to not be held accountable.

Florida Products Liability
Manufacturers should be held accountable for products that cause serious injuries or death. Poor design, product defects, manufacturing flaws, parts malfunctioning, marketing defects, breach of warranty, and faulty instructions are some grounds for victims and their families to sue.

Proving Palm Beach products liability can be challenging, which is why you should get legal help. The statute of limitations for a Florida products liability case is four years. However, if a product defect resulted in a death, then the statue of limitations is two years.

Florida Senate Moves to Curb Liability Suits Against Car Makers, Insurance Journal, March 17, 2011
Florida Senate limits product liability lawsuits against auto makers, other businesses, NaplesNews, March 16, 2011

Related Web Resources:
Defective Product Liability Claims: Who to Sue?, Nolo
Products Liability, Cornell.Law.Educ

More Blog Posts:
Will US Supreme Court’s Revival of Seat Belt Defect Lawsuit Against Mazda and Window Defect Case Against Ford Pave the Way for More Florida Auto Products Liability Cases?, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, February 28, 2011
Five People Killed in West Palm Beach After Tire Blowout Causes SUV Rollover, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, October 20, 2008
Contact our Miami products liability law firm so that we can help you explore your legal options.