Economic Loss Rule and Product Liability Cases

Product liability cases make the headlines every now and again because of the danger that some products pose, and cause. Recently, it was reported that a well-known senator filed a product liability case against an exercise equipment manufacturer.

The case was filed after the senator suffered an injury to his eye while using exercise bands. The lawsuit, filed in Nevada, alleges that while the senator was using the equipment, the band broke or slipped from his hand and caused injury to his eye. The suit seeks over $50,000 in damages.

The damages sought after in this case are the result of the personal injury that the senator alleges to have suffered. But some cases involving a defective product do not cause personal injury, and are the result of the defective product inability to serve its intended function. These are known as purely economic damages and are typically barred in personal injury law. This blog post will discuss why that is, and the history and state of the law regarding the economic loss rule in Florida.

Products Liability and Economic Loss

The idea of suing a manufacturer for product liability is a novel one in our common law system of justice. It used to be that a person could not sue a manufacturer for the injuries sustained due to a defective product unless the injured person had a contract with the manufacturer. But this changed in Florida and throughout the country in the 1950s.

In the beginning of this new approach to product liability cases, the courts put a duty of reasonable care on a manufacturer. A manufacturer could not be negligent in putting products in the stream of commerce that caused personal injury. This rule soon morphed into one of strict liability, meaning that it did not matter whether the manufacturer was negligent; if they put a product in the stream of commerce that caused injury, they would be held strictly liable.

This new rule caused courts to struggle with defective products that simply were defective but did not cause personal injury. In those cases should a manufacturer be held liable for a defective product? Or should the contract between the manufacturer and the consumer rule the issue? This is where the economic loss rule came into play.

The economic rule in product liability cases says this: Amanufacturer will not be held liable for products that simply damage themselves and not anything else. For example, say you buy a tractor that you want to use to mow your lawns. Once you get it, however, it does not work and you are stuck with a bill for a tractor that does not work. You have to sue under a different theory than product liability. But if the same tractor malfunctioned and caused you personal injury, then you may have a product liability case for the personal injuries you sustained.

Panama City Area Product Liability Attorney

Being injured by a defective product can have life-changing consequences for you and your family. If you have been injured by a defective product in the Panama City area, contact us. At The Pittman Firm, we sue manufacturers, distributors, store owners, and others who are responsible for causing injuries to our clients.


See related blog posts: Florida Court of Appeals Rules on Product Liability Case; 3rd District Court of Appeals Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Judgment.
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