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What should you do when you suffer an injury from a defective product?

  • Preserve the defective product. It will be critical evidence in your case.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Contact an attorney to ensure that an investigation by qualified experts begins immediately.

Once the injury has occurred, the clock begins to tick. You have a limited time to file a product liability claim. In general, product liability claims are filed when a product has a design flaw or when a manufacturer has not provided adequate instructions or warnings for use of the product. In cases where the same product has caused injuries to several people, a class action lawsuit may occur. An example of that would be the Firestone or Ford Explorer cases from a few years ago.

Damages Defined: Punitive

Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to essentially “punish” the wrongful party. Unlike compensatory damages, this award is not based on actual harm suffered by the injured party.

These damages are awarded when the defendant’s behavior or intent has been found to be especially harmful. They are not usually awarded for breaches of contract unless the intent was “wanton, willful and deliberate.”

In Florida, punitive damages are limited to a maximum of three times the amount of compensatory (or actual) damages awarded, or $500,000 – whichever is greater, except under unusual circumstances.

Damages Defined: Compensatory and Actual

The tort law definition of damages is “a form of monetary compensation to the injured party.” There are different types of damages and more than one may apply to your case.

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured party for injury or loss. The amount of these damages is based on the actual harm suffered by the plaintiff.  Actual damages are synonymous with compensatory damages.

In some cases, a plaintiff will be awarded “Treble damages.” In this scenario, the jury determines the amount of the actual damages and the court must award three times that amount.

Compensatory damages are awarded before Punitive damages are considered. Learn more about Punitive damages.

Things to consider before agreeing to “settle” a personal injury case

Is it wise to settle your case before it goes to court? There are good reasons to do so. The outcome of a court case is not assured. The court may or may not rule in your favor. If it does rule in your favor, it may not award all the monetary damages you were seeking. There is also the possibility that it will be years before you actually see any of the compensation.

You may be offered a settlement by the other party. If your case is against an insurance company, remember that the company’s business model is to pay the smallest amount possible, so before you settle, make sure the amount will cover your injury related medical expenses, past and future.

The advantages of settling are that both parties know the outcome ahead of time. It is a quicker and less expensive route to take.  A settlement is likely to be for less money than you could get in court if you won the case.

So the considerations are:

  • Have you consulted an attorney?
  • How badly do you need the money?
  • How strong is your case?
  • Do you feel comfortable with your medical assessment?
  • Are you sure the settlement amount covers all possible loss of income scenarios?

An experienced personal injury attorney will know if your case is strong and will guide you in the right direction.

5 Things to Avoid when Suffering a Personal Injury

The steps you take after suffering a personal injury can have a big impact on your case. Here are five things to avoid:

  1. Recorded Statements: Avoid giving recorded statements to insurance adjusters.
  2. Signing a Release: Do NOT sign a release or endorse a check with release language printed on it.
  3. Unnecessary Conversation: Avoid discussing anything about your injury or potential case with anyone except those who need to know: your spouse, your doctor, your attorney.
  4. Pressure Tactics: If someone is pressuring you to do something, chances are they have something to gain from your actions. Trust your attorney to tell you what the necessary actions are. Don’t give in to pressure tactics.
  5. Premature Settlement: Do not settle a case prior to consulting an attorney or before your symptoms have completely disappeared.


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