Generally, when people are hurt in car accidents, the driver that caused the accident will be deemed liable for their injuries. In some instances, though, the manufacturer of a defective product that caused or contributed to the collision may be held accountable as well. There are limitations as to when a manufacturer will be held liable for harm caused by a dangerous product, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in a case in which a fatal crash was caused by the defendant driver’s improper use of the product. If you lost a loved one due to a fatal collision, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.
The Subject Accident
It is alleged that the defendant company sold a chemical known as potpourri, which came with a label that it was not intended for human consumption, as the product was highly dangerous if consumed. The defendant driver ignored the warning and consumed the product, after which he became impaired. He then drove his car on the highway at a high rate of speed and crashed into a car driven by the plaintiffs’ decedent, who died instantly.
Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant company, alleging their product suffered from a fatal defect that made it unreasonably unsafe and defective and that the defect caused the decedent’s death. During the trial, the defendant company moved for a directed verdict, but the motion was denied. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant company appealed.
Liability for Dangerous Products
On appeal, the court noted that it must affirm a denial of a directed verdict unless no correct assessment of the evidence could result in a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. In the subject case, though, the defendant company demonstrated that a directed verdict was proper. Specifically, the court explained that the criminal actions of the defendant driver proximately caused the decedents’ deaths, not the dangerous nature of the defendant company’s product.
The court explained that even when a defendant’s behavior creates a dangerous situation, as a matter of law, there will be no proximate cause where an unforeseeable, intervening act ultimately leads to the harm alleged. Further, as the court explained, Florida law does not allow a jury to consider the issue of proximate cause where the party responsible for any injury intentionally misuses a product or is voluntarily impaired, and the impairment leads to the harm of a third party.
Here, the defendant company argued that regardless of whether its product was defective, it could not be liable to a third party that did not use the product based on the fact that another party misused the product and drove while impaired. The court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling.
Consult with a Capable Florida Attorney
Car accidents can cause grave injuries, which in many instances are fatal. If you lost a loved one due to a collision, you could be owed substantial compensation and should consult a lawyer. Jarrett Blakeley is a capable Florida car accident attorney, and he can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available in your case. You can reach Mr. Blakeley via the online form or at (800) 602-5000 to schedule a conference.