Product defects can cause serious injuries. When they do, the responsible party should be held accountable for all damages. Identifying liability and proving the defect caused the harm can be difficult as it often requires technical and scientific knowledge as much as legal skills.
At Mike Bell Accident & Injury Lawyers, we have the resources to provide thorough legal representation for product liability cases. Our product defect lawyer in Alabama will take on these types of cases and the challenges that flow from them. Contact us at 205-666-6000 to schedule a consultation when we can discuss your case with you. We can assess your case and lay out the best legal options available to you.
What Constitutes Product Liability in Alabama?
Product liability is one part of tort law that holds companies accountable for a defective product when it causes harm to another person. The defect is often the result of negligence when designing, making, and selling a product. Successful product liability claims rest on showing that:
- The company acted negligently.
- There was a breach of warranty.
- The company should be held strictly liable for defects in the product's design, manufacture, or marketing.
Most product liability claims, however, seek to hold the defendant company strictly liable. That way, the victim can recover compensation without proving that the defendant acted poorly.
Three Theories on Product Defects in Alabama for Strict Liability
If your product defect case puts forth a strict liability claim (as opposed to or in addition to a negligence theory claim), then there are three specific theories under the strict liability umbrella that can be used.
Design defects involve a dangerous condition in the product that is the result of the design of the product. Real examples of design defects include:
- Hernia mesh products where some devices were designed with material or in a wavy that caused erosion, migration, and perforation
- Boppy Newborn Loungers where the poor design caused some newborns to suffocate when they fell asleep
- Peloton Tread Plus+ where the design did not take into consideration a way to prevent children and pets from being pulled under the machine
Manufacturing defects occur when an error is made during the production of the product and this error leads to dangerous differences between the design and the finished result. Some real examples include:
- Auvi-q pens or EpiPens that failed to inject life-saving medicine
- General Motor vehicles with faulty ignition switches that could shut off the engine while driving or disable power steering and brakes
- Dow Corning silicone breast implants that could rupture
Marketing defects occur when a company fails to warn users about a potential danger of using the product––even if the product was not used for its intended purpose but the use was foreseeable. Examples of marketing defects include:
- Juul vapes when it initially contained no warning about the product containing nicotine
- IVC filters, a surgical device to prevent blood clots, when they came onto the market without a warning to patients that the devices could migrate and penetrate the duodenum
- Paraquat, an herbicide, when it was released into the market without a warning that exposure could lead to Parkinson's Disease
A defendant will put forth defenses. Some of these defenses are common and so you should be aware of them. For example, a defendant of a marketing defect allegation may try to show that a reasonable consumer would not have gotten hurt. A defendant of a design defect allegation may argue that a feasible alternative product design was unavailable to mitigate the risk associated with the current product.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Product Defect Case in Alabama?
Parties that are often held accountable for defective products are: manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers.
- Manufacturers, these are companies––anything from a one-person company to a multinational corporation––involved in the design and/or marketing of the product. There could also be multiple manufacturers, one for the defective part of the product and another for the defective product itself.
- Wholesalers, these are the middlemen between the makers and the retailers.
- Retailers, these are the ones who sell the product and/or advertise the product for sale, and through these advertisements, they implicitly ensure the product is safe and suitable for use. When suing a retailer, however, keep in mind that you:
- Don't have to be the one who bought the defective product
- Don't have to be the one who used the defective product
- Might be able to recover compensation for used products, but that depends on the various circumstances, like state law, the product, and the defect.
As it is, any company in the manufacturing and supply chain can be held liable in product defect cases. The key is determining what the defect is and connecting the defect with the injury. This also means that more than one party can be held liable. In fact, it is not a matter (and never is) of choosing one liable party over another party. If there are potentially multiple parties who can be held accountable, that increases your options (in most cases) of obtaining fair and just compensation.
At the beginning of the case, it is especially important to name all potential parties involved in the chain of distribution. Later, it may become clear that one party may not be liable, but if you fail to add them originally, you may miss an opportunity to collect.
Contact a Product Liability Attorney in Alabama Today
Defective products that cause injuries are many. Victims are entitled to compensation for those injuries. At Mike Bell Accident & Injury Lawyers, our product defects attorney has the skills you need to determine if you have a viable defective product case and, if so, to move that case forward. Contact us at 205-666-6000 for a consultation to learn more about defective product liability and how to get your case started.