Alabama Defective Product Liability: Who is Responsible?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A person who is injured by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product can bring a product liability lawsuit as long as they can show that they were a person reasonably expected to use the product. For example, a guest in a private pool who is injured by a loose ladder is a person the manufacturer and distributors should have expected to use the product. People with private pools often have guests. On the other hand, someone who steals a car and is injured by a defect in it is in a more difficult situation. Should the manufacturer foresee the use by thieves? They should at least have foreseen that the car would be driven by someone other than the owner.

A product liability action can be brought against anyone who is engaged in placing the product in commerce as a regular business. This includes the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and others, such as the mechanic who regularly installs car parts.

If you are injured by a product, you are advised to consult an Alabama product liability lawyer, but there are two basic legal theories that are used in product liability cases:

Alabama Strict Liability

Under this theory, the person injured doesn’t have to prove that the defendant or defendants were negligent or careless in the manufacture or distribution of the product. The injured person just has to show that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous, that the defendant was involved in placing it in commerce (in stores, for example), and that the defect caused the injury.

In some cases, the injured party doesn’t even have to prove exactly how the product was defective. If the product was sold and used for the purpose for which it was intended and it caused an unexpected injury, that may be enough. For example, if someone buys a lawnmower and uses it according to the directions to mow the lawn, but the mower catches fire causing severe burns to the person using it, that evidence is enough to prove that the mower was defective. The plaintiff isn’t required to prove exactly why it caught fire.

Alabama Negligence

Negligence means that the person who produced or distributed the product was negligent or careless in some way. For example, a retailer who loses the box and instruction material for a floor model of a machine, and then sells the floor model without them, might be negligent if the box or instructions contained important safety information and the absence of those warnings resulted in an injury. Lawsuits for strict liability sometimes contain negligence claims as well.

Contributory Negligence

Some states use comparative negligence as a rule for determining liability, which means that if the person using the product was negligent, their recovery will be reduced. For example, if an accident was caused by a faulty auto part, but some of the damage could have been avoided if the driver had both hands on the wheel instead of holding a cell phone, the driver might be considered partly responsible for the damage.

Alabama is one of only four states (and the District of Columbia) that adheres to an older and more rigid legal theory called contributory negligence. Under that theory, if the person injured was negligent at all, they are not allowed to recover any damages. The question of whether the plaintiff was negligent often arises in product liability cases where the defendant often claims that the person injured was not using the product properly. You should get advice from an Alabama product liability attorney if this could be an issue in your case.

If you were injured by a product and believe the product was defective, contact an experienced Alabama product liability lawyer right away. A qualified product liability lawyer can provide expert advice on your rights and the merits of your case, as well as how much time you have to file your product liability lawsuit.

If you would like to have your case evaluated by an experienced Alabama product liability attorney, fill out our case evaluation form at no cost or obligation.

Check out the following articles for more information about Alabama product liability, filing an Alabama product liability lawsuit and finding an Alabama product liability attorney.

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