When you use any consumer product, you expect it to do its job without causing harm to you or anyone else. Unfortunately, injuries and deaths from common, readily available products cost the American economy $1 trillion every year.

Manufacturers are expected to supply products that are safe for use, and they can be held liable when the items they produce cause an injury. If a malfunctioning or defective product harmed you, your damages could include reimbursement for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, if you enlist the help of a personal injury attorney. If you are currently in this situation, get in touch with a Gilbert product liability lawyer to help you seek justice.

Three Types of Product Defects

When someone brings a claim alleging that a defective product injured them, they must prove that the product was defective when it left the factory. A claimant must show that the design, manufacturing, or labeling of the product rendered it unreasonably dangerous.

Design Defect

A product with a defective design would be unreasonably dangerous to anyone who used it. A plaintiff alleging a design defect has the burden of proving that the product could have been designed differently and a different design would make the product safer.

Manufacturing Defect

A claimant could allege a manufacturing defect when the product is usually safe when used, but somehow the particular item that found its way into the consumer’s hands was defective. Damaged parts, poor quality components, assembly errors, and shoddy packaging are all typically the result of manufacturing defects.

Labeling Defect

Manufacturers must provide labels that offer consumers adequate instructions for safe use of an item. They also must warn of any known or anticipated hazards associated with using the product. When a manufacturer fails to label a product adequately, they could be liable for a labeling defect.

Pursuing a Claim on a Strict Liability Theory

In most cases in which a person seeks damages for personal injuries, they must prove that someone else’s negligence had a role in the accident that caused their injury. However, product liability cases offer plaintiffs the option to pursue a claim under the theory of strict liability. Gilbert attorneys could find that it is simpler to establish a compelling case using strict liability theory rather than negligence.

Strict liability theory states that a manufacturer will be held liable if their product caused an injury, even if they did not engage in negligence or other wrongdoing. Products must be safe to use as reasonably anticipated, and if they are not, the manufacturer may be forced to compensate the injured party.

When pursuing a case under strict liability, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant manufactured, distributed, or sold the product in question. They also must offer evidence of the defect in the product’s design, manufacture, or labeling. Finally, they must show that the defect led to the malfunction that caused their suffering.

Proving Product Liability Due to Negligence

In some cases, it makes sense to pursue a manufacturer or other participant in the supply chain using the theory of negligence. If there is evidence that a party was careless or reckless, and that absence of caution led to the plaintiff’s injury, a negligence action could be successful.

Negligence requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant had a duty to them, which they breached. The plaintiff also must establish that the breach caused the condition that resulted in their injury.

A skilled defective products attorney in the Gilbert area could evaluate the evidence to determine whether there is significant, persuasive evidence of negligence. If so, the plaintiff might pursue a negligence claim instead of, or in addition to, a strict liability claim.

Defenses to Product Liability Claim

Whether a plaintiff proceeds on strict liability, negligence, or both, defendants have some defenses they might raise to defeat the claim. Arizona Revised Statutes §12-683 offers manufacturers the following affirmative defenses:

  • State of the art: If a plaintiff alleges a design or manufacturing defect and the manufacturer’s process was state of the art at the time of manufacture, the defendant will not be considered liable
  • Alteration or tampering: A defendant is only liable if the product, at the time of the malfunction, was in substantially the same condition as when it left the factory
  • Consumer misuse: A defendant is not liable if a consumer used the product in way that a manufacturer could not reasonably anticipate
  • Overconsumption: A defendant is not liable if the product is a food product and the consumer’s excessive consumption led to their injury

If the defendant proves any of these defenses, they could defeat a plaintiff’s claim. However, a Gilbert attorney will have the opportunity to present evidence that counters the defendant’s assertions.

Discovery Rule Could Be Helpful

The statute of limitations for personal injuries in Arizona is two years from the date of the incident that caused the harm. A plaintiff who fails to file a lawsuit within two years loses their right to argue their case in court and loses their leverage to obtain an out-of-court settlement.

There is an exception to this rule that applies in some product liability cases. State courts follow a discovery rule, which says that the two-year period begins when the plaintiff discovered their injury was related to the faulty product. This rule significantly benefits people who suffered injuries due to unsafe medications or prolonged exposure to specific products or substances. A knowledgeable product liability attorney in Gilbert could assess whether the discovery rule might apply in a particular case.

Select a Gilbert Product Liability Attorney to Bring Your Claim for Damages

Seeking compensation for injuries linked to a defective product often involves going up against large corporations and their legal teams. If you are facing this situation, you will need a legal advocate who will fight to protect your rights.

A Gilbert product liability lawyer has the resources, the confidence, and the commitment to get you the result you deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as possible and get started on your claim.

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