Product Liability Attorneys in Arkansas
As a consumer, you have the right to expect that the products you buy do not have serious defects that could cause a significant injury. Federal guidelines impose strict safety standards on designers and manufacturers to ensure the safety of a product before selling it to a retailer or directly to a customer. A retailer can also share liability for a customer’s injuries when it knew the product was potentially unsafe but chose to sell it anyway.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), thousands of Americans lose their lives or sustain significant injuries every year due to unknowingly using an unsafe product. The agency keeps separate statistics according to the type of product that caused the injury such as furniture, toys, home maintenance equipment, and kitchen equipment. Many of these injuries occur even when the consumer used the product exactly as specified. This is due to negligence or even a deliberate attempt by designers or manufacturers to hide known defects. These products should have never made it past quality control, much less into the hands of a consumer.
As an injured consumer or a family member representing the estate of a person who died due to a faulty product, you have the right to file a product liability lawsuit against the responsible party. This can prove challenging for the following reasons:
- It isn’t always easy to identify the responsible party or parties. For example, it may appear that the manufacturer made the critical error when it really occurred at the design stage. The design team could have hidden the flaw well enough that the manufacturer knew nothing about it. You need an experienced product liability attorney like Paul Byrd to research the entire lifecycle of the product to determine where the negligence took place.
- Federal and state laws provide several exemptions to product manufacturers and designers that protect them from personal injury lawsuits. Since one of these is the improper use of the product by the consumer, this is the defense that many defendants try to use to get the case dismissed.
- The burden of proof lies with you as the injured party to prove that faulty design or manufacturer of the product, improper labeling, or lack of instructions caused your injuries and not any actions that you took independently.
- Arkansas state law allows just three years from the date of your injury or the reasonable discovery of your injury to file a lawsuit for compensatory damages.
- You can’t collect personal injury damages in Arkansas if you’re more than 50 percent responsible for causing your own injuries. The opposing party will attempt to claim that you share more blame to get the case thrown out of court.
If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit due to a defective product, we encourage you to first learn about the categories and types of product liability.
What Constitutes Product Liability?
When an injured person files a product liability personal injury lawsuit, the damages typically fall into one of the following three categories:
- Deceptive marketing practices: A manufacturer must truthfully represent its product to the buyer, whether that’s a retail organization or a single customer. It should also include warnings on the package if using the product is risky as well as step-by-step instructions on how to use the product correctly inside of the packaging. The product manufacturer can face legal liability if it skips any of these steps.
- Flaw in design: A design flaw indicates that the people responsible for creating the product in its earliest stages committed a negligent act or deliberately tried to cover-up a known flaw before passing the product along in its creation cycle. The jury will consider whether people with the same level of experience and training would have known to correct the error during the early design stage.
- Flaw in manufacturing: Sometimes the design of a product is flawless but the people responsible for assembling it make a serious mistake. Although an assembly line worker could have made the error, it’s ultimately up to quality control to detect and correct it. The manufacturing company would therefore bear the responsibility for your injuries or the death of your loved one.
Keep in mind that the defendant to your lawsuit may have violated some or all of these product liability categories. Even so, you still bear the burden of proof to show exactly how the defendant committed a violation in each category.
Understanding the Types of Product Liability
In addition to the actions of the defendant falling into a specific category, you also need to demonstrate the type of product liability that applies to your case. It could be one or more of the following items.
- Breach of warranty: When selling a product, those responsible for creating it enter a warranty with him or her that guarantees its safety as well as performance. A breach of warranty exists when this doesn’t occur.
- Negligence: Any organization that makes a product available to the public must demonstrate high safety standards when doing so. If you claim negligence by the defendant, you must also show that the negligence directly caused your injuries.
- Strict liability: Arkansas imposes the standard of strict liability, which may work in your favor. It means that you’re only responsible to show that the product you used had some type of defect even if the design, manufacture, and marketing of the product met established guidelines.
As you can see, product liability claims can be difficult to establish and win. This is especially true if you choose to represent yourself or hire an inexperienced personal injury attorney.
Request a Free Consultation from Paul Byrd Law Firm
At Paul Byrd Law Firm, we’re on the side of injured people. We invite you to contact us locally in the Little Rock area at 501-420-3050 to schedule a review of your case with personal injury attorney Paul Byrd. He will put his more than 25 years of experience to work for you right away.