Our world is one filled with mass-produced products. From cars to televisions, construction tools to kitchen equipment, toys to home furnishings, consumer products are all around us in our daily lives. Normally these products perform their intended function without issue, or they break or wear down without causing injury. But occasionally the products we use create unacceptable dangers. When a defective product causes injury, the maker and seller of that product may be liable for those injuries.
Over the last half-century, products liability law has greatly evolved to provide better protections for consumers. Previously, consumers injured by a defective product would have to show in court that there was some negligence or culpability on the part of the maker of the product in order to recover in court. Today, products liability is a form of strict liability, meaning that if the product is defective, for any reason, the consumer can recover for his or her injuries. In addition, not only can the manufacturer of the product be held liable, but others who regularly deal in the product, including distributors and dealers. Alabama has adopted its own different version of strict liability. In Alabama, product liability claims are brought pursuant to the Alabama Extended Manufacture’s Liability Doctrine (AEMLD).
There are several ways in which a product may be defective. One form of defect is a manufacturing defect, where the product that caused injury was manufactured with some sort of flaw not present in the rest of the similar products. This would include finding a piece of glass in an ice cream sandwich, or failing to properly affix the seatbelt in a vehicle. It is not intended by the manufacturer, but the manufacturer is responsible for it. Sometimes manufacturing defects happen across a set of products, resulting in a recall.
Another form of defect is what is called a design defect. This is where the product is designed in a way that is unreasonably dangerous. Examples include three-wheel ATVs, lead paint on children’s toys, and the Ford Pinto, which was designed with a gas tank dangerously exposed in rear-end collisions. Unlike manufacturing defects, the product is produced exactly as the manufacturer intended, but the design presents unacceptable dangers.
The third form of defect is a warning defect. Many products are dangerous, but nonetheless have valuable uses in our society. Cleaning chemicals and chainsaws, for example, are dangerous if misused, but are very useful if used properly. Where a product has inherent dangers, the manufacturer of the product generally has a duty to warn the users of the product of those dangers. Where there is an inadequate warning of the dangers of a product, and an injury occurs that would have been prevented by a proper warning, this may result in a product liability claim.
Product liability claims provide important compensation to victims of dangerous products. They also serve the important purpose of keeping dangerous products off of the market, encouraging safe design, and ensuring that products have adequate warning labels. Because products liability claims often depend upon expert testimony regarding the design of the product, they can be expensive and difficult to pursue.
At Cross & Smith, we are committed to getting results for our clients. We have obtained millions of dollars in damages for those injured or killed due to dangerous products. We have the resources and the know-how to pursue the most complex products liability cases in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham through trial. If you have suffered injury due to a dangerous product, call our office today at (877) 791-0618 for a free confidential consultation.
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