When a person purchases a consumer product or medical device, it is reasonable to expect that the product will function as intended and not place the user at an unnecessary risk of harm. However, dangerous or malfunctioning products often end up on the market and cause hundreds of injuries each year.
If you have been injured by a defective product, you should reach out to a Phoenix product liability lawyer to determine if you are eligible to recover damages. A skilled lawyer could explain the state’s defective product laws, gather evidence of manufacturer fault, and help you seek fair compensation for your suffering.
State law provides that the makers and sellers of consumer products have a duty to produce items that are safe for their intended use. This duty applies during the design and manufacture phases of product development. When a maker or seller of a product fails to meet this standard during these processes, a product liability claim may be appropriate.
Defective product cases in Phoenix typically allege one of three concepts. First, the plaintiff can argue that a defect in the product’s design led to a failure that caused their injury. They could also claim that a manufacturing error made the product defective, or that a failure to provide proper instructions or a warning concerning the product’s dangerous nature resulted in the injury.
Within a product liability claim, state law dictates that the plaintiff should not identify a dollar value within the complaint regarding the compensation they seek. Instead, the complaint should only request damages that are reasonable under the circumstances. An experienced Phoenix attorney could help a plaintiff fully understand these arguments and choose a theory that best fits the facts of their product liability case.
Generally, state law provides two legal theories under which a plaintiff may bring a defective products case: strict liability and negligence. Based on an individual’s injuries and the type of product that caused the injury, a Phoenix lawyer with product liability experience could guide a plaintiff regarding which theory to pursue.
In a product liability case, a plaintiff can prove a defendant’s negligence if they satisfy four elements:
The element of duty is typically easy to prove in product liability cases because the defendant owes a duty to any potential customer or user of the item.
To demonstrate proof in a product liability action, a plaintiff may not rely on any scientific or technological developments or advancements that have come to light since the defendant first sold the defective item. Similarly, the plaintiff may also not invoke changes to product warnings, testing, design, or manufacturing methods for the defective item or similar items since the defective item’s initial sale.
If a malfunctioning product caused a person’s injuries, it does not automatically mean that the maker is at-fault. In fact, state law provides a series of defenses that a manufacturer may raise to deflect the blame for the incident.
According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-683, the maker of a product is not liable if the designs for the item or technique of manufacturing met the appropriate quality standards when it was first produced. Manufacturers may also argue that the plaintiff’s injury occurred because of an alteration or modification of the product that was not reasonably foreseeable. Finally, defendant could contend that the injured person used the item in an unforeseeable way, so they should not be held liable for their actions. A knowledgeable attorney in Phoenix may be able to fight back against these common defenses of a product liability case during settlement talks and in court.
State law relies on the doctrine of comparative negligence in product liability cases. If a plaintiff in a product liability case bears any responsibility for the injury they from a defective product, their potential compensation is generally reduced according to their relative percentage of fault. This applies even if the plaintiff bears most of the liability for the injury they suffered.
In many cases, more than one party along a product’s supply chain may bear responsibility for a plaintiff’s injuries. If two or more parties are found to be jointly and severally liable in a product liability claim, all responsible parties share in liability for compensating the victim.
A plaintiff’s ability to successfully file a product liability claim is also limited by the statute of limitations for these cases. A person who suffers harm from a defective product has two years from the date of their injury to demand compensation. If they do not file a case in court within this time limit, the product’s maker may ask the court to dismiss the case. Additionally, a plaintiff may not commence a product liability action if their injury occurs more than 12 years after the product’s initial sale, unless the claim is based on manufacturer or seller negligence or a breach of the manufacturer’s or seller’s express warranty. An attorney could help a plaintiff pursue a case within this strict time limit.
Under state law, a food product manufacturer, distributor, or seller has no duty to warn potential or actual consumers that eating a food item in excess may cause health problems. The lack of duty to warn excludes any food product that is unreasonably hazardous or defective.
Suffering an injury after using a consumer product can place you in a difficult position. Not only will you need to seek medical care and work toward your physical recovery, but you may face emotional trauma and financial strain in the aftermath of your injury that can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
In certain situations, you may be able to file a claim against the maker of the product that caused your injury and achieve monetary compensation to offset the cost of your recovery. Contact a Phoenix product liability lawyer today to learn more about how to pursue a case.