Bowling Alley Injury Raises Potential Products Liability Issues

It is an image that one would expect to see on a television drama, not one described in the local news report discussed below. On CSI, the event would be the result of an angry co-worker's sabotage, perhaps motivated by a long history of bullying or other mistreatment. On The Twilight Zone, it would be a machine coming to life, possessed by an evil spirit. In reality, it is too early to be sure of the cause, but a product defect may have been a factor and it is one possibility our Panama City product liability attorney would recommend exploring as the facts continue to come to light.

Pin Machine Crushes Worker at Panama City Beach Bowling Alley

According to WJHG, a family was enjoying a game of bowling on Sunday afternoon at Rock'It Lanes on Richard Jackson Avenue in Panama City Beach. An employee reports that the family was having trouble with a stuck pin machine. She looked down after they pressed the repeat button several times and she saw a human arm hanging out of the machine.

William Martens, a 40-year-old from Panama City, had been working on the machine but apparently had not turned it off. The machine crushed him, and three other employees tried frantically to free him. In order to do so, they had to unplug it and then physically lift it off Martens' body. When EMS arrived, he was turning blue and not breathing. He was taken to Bay Medical where, as of WJHG's report, he was in critical condition. The owner of the bowling alley said turning off the machine is one of the first things mechanics learn, so he was not sure why Martens did not do so. Investigators are also looking at why Martens was working on the machine, which had been repaired earlier in the day.

Products Liability Law

As with many accidents, Martens' injury will be the subject of investigations by police and private authorities. When working for a client, our Panama City injury law firm explores each accident to determine the likely cause and the parties responsible. With the initial facts of the bowling alley accident, one possibility worth investigating is whether a faulty product caused the incident.

Florida Statutes Section 768.81(1)(d) defines products liability suits as civil claim involving "damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product." It can include cases where other causes are present but the injuries were made worse by a defective product. Generally, products liability cases are governed by a strict liability theory. In order to recover, the plaintiff must show that:

  1. The product was unsafe.
  2. The plaintiff suffered an injury.
  3. The product caused that injury.

A plaintiff does not need to prove the defendant was negligent or careless in making or selling the item because companies have a duty to make and sell safe products.

Even with the strict liability rule, plaintiffs generally present the court with an overall theory for the case. There are three main theories used in Florida products liability cases:

  1. Design Defect: the item was built according to plan, but the design itself was faulty and dangerous.
  2. Manufacturing Defect: the planned design was safe, but the product did not meet the design specifications and the variance made it dangerous.
  3. Failure to Warn/Instructional Defect: the manufacturer failed to provide a clear warning about a known danger.

Our Work as a Panama City Injury Law Firm

Although the initial report of the bowling alley accident makes it seem like a defective product may have caused the injury, it is important to note that we cannot draw any definite conclusions from a short news article. When we take a case, our Panama City personal injury attorney undertakes a thorough investigation and considers all possible causes (although our team will skip the "possessed pin machine" theory mentioned in the opening paragraph!) and applicable legal theories. This process begins with the initial consultation - If you have suffered an injury caused by another person or company in the Panama City region, call to schedule your free consultation today.

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