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What are the Punitive Damages in Products Liability Cases in Florida?

Each year, thousands of Americans sustain injuries in the United States resulting from products sold on the market. Watching the news in Miami, one will notice that dangerous and defective products are constantly recalled due to the injuries they cause. Imagine now, that a manufacturer is aware that an item it sells is dangerous and/or defective and this company deliberately conceals this knowledge from the general public. An experienced products liability attorney in Miami will be able to recover punitive damages for their clients in these types of active concealment cases.

What Constitutes an Active Concealment Case?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced more than 350 recalls in 2004. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced about 500. Most manufacturers recall products after they are placed in the stream of commerce due to defects which were found with these products after the distribution of these products. This is done to insure that consumers are no longer injured by these same goods.

In some instances, however, manufacturers are aware that the items they sell are dangerous and cause harm prior to the distribution of these products. Rather than retool and redesign to make the product safe, the manufacturer deliberately buries the danger posed by these goods from consumers. The decision to go forward selling the defective product is almost always a function of dollars. Manufacturers ague that the don’t have the money to spend making the product safer. I have heard manufacturer’s representatives say, “We figured it was cheaper to pay claims than retool and redesign the product.”

Sad, but true.

In some cases, manufacturers go a step further and fraudulently advertise that the product has been tested and that it is safe. Such would be the case of a drug manufacturer which is aware that a new drug it is distributing causes cardiac arrests and advertises that the drug has been tested and that it has no side effects. These cases are referred to as active or fraudulent concealment cases and a proficient products liability lawyer will try and to recover punitive damages for his/her client in these types of cases.

What are the Punitive Damages in Active Concealment Products Liability Cases in Florida?.

Under Florida Law, punitive damages can be awarded to a person injured by a product when a manufacturer actively conceals the hidden dangers of the product from the general public. As a general rule, Florida Law caps punitive damages to the greater of (1) three times the actual damages incurred or (2) $500,000.00. Florida Statutes §768.73(1)(a). However, in active concealment cases, the limits can be increased to the greater of (1) four times the actual damages incurred or (2) $2,000,000.00. Florida Statutes §768.73(1)(b). As such, if a jury awards $1,000,000.00 in compensatory damages to the victim of a products liability case, a fine lawyer may be able to secure an award of $4,000,000.00 in punitive damages for the manufacturer’s active concealment.

What is the Time Frame to File Suit for Fraudulent Concealment?

In general, under Florida Law, a person must file a lawsuit for fraud within 12 years of the commission of the fraud (i.e. the date the product entered the market) regardless of when the fraud was discovered. Florida Statutes §95.031(2)(a). However the active concealment of the manufacturer will toll (extend) this twelve year period. Florida Statutes §95.031(2)(d).

With reference to active concealment, Florida Courts disagree as to whether the victim’s reliance on the active concealment is a requirement to extend this 12 year period. As such, if one is the victim in an active concealment products liability case, we strongly suggest that you immediately consult an experienced attorney to insure that you can timely claim punitive damages when applicable.

The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help

Regardless of what your condition may be after being involved in an accident, one of your first thoughts should be to hire an attorney. Even if incapacitated and unable to make contact yourself, you should have a friend or relative contact a lawyer with experience handling car accident cases so that the attorney may help you recover any compensation you may be owed. Insurance companies for the other driver(s) will promptly have their own lawyers and investigators working very hard by collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses from the moment the accident was reported to them. Shouldn’t you have someone working as hard for you too?

With more than 100 years of combined experience, the Miami-Dade County Product Liability attorneys at the Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have helped thousands of victims of defective products, car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, accidents at amusement parks or any other kind of accidents recover the funds they were owed. Call us today at 1-888-499-9700 for a Free Consultation.

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