Understanding a Product Liability Lawsuit
A product liability lawsuit is a legal claim that is filed by a plaintiff against a product’s manufacturer, designer, or another party involved in the chains of production and distribution when the product contains a defect that results in injury or death. In this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff argues that he or she was injured because the product did not work properly, malfunctioned, or was too dangerous to use. Product liability claims can be filed against multiple defendants, including the following:
- Designer of a defective product
- Manufacturer of a defective component
- Assembler or installer
- Retail store that sold the product
There are three different theories under which product liability claims can operate, including negligence, breach of warranty of the product’s fitness, and strict liability.
In a negligence claim, the designer, manufacturer, assembler, or installer of the product is alleged to have violated a duty of care that was owed to the consumer, resulting in the consumer’s injury and calculable damages. Strict liability claims allege that the product was defective and caused the injury without the plaintiff having to prove that the manufacturer or designer negligently caused the harm. Finally, breach of warranty of fitness involves claims that the product’s express or implied warranty was breached and resulted in the person’s injuries because the product did not meet reasonable expectations or did not comply with the express warranty provided in the sales contract.
Types of Product Liability
Product liability claims generally fall into one of the three following categories:
- Design Defect: The product contained a defect that could have been eliminated by using a different design, and the consumer was injured when using the product as intended.
- Manufacturing Defect: The product contained a defect introduced during the manufacturing process, and the consumer was injured by it.
- Inadequate Warnings: The manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions to the consumer to identify potential hazards, and the consumer suffered injuries from the type of hazard that the manufacturer failed to warn about. The manufacturer must also have known about the danger or reasonably should have known about it when it created the warning label.
How Is a Product Liability Lawsuit Filed?
To begin a product liability claim, you must file a civil complaint in state or federal court. Before a complaint is filed, a product liability attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation to identify the defect or defects and the various parties that might be liable. Once the civil complaint is filed, it must be served on the defendant or defendants together with a summons to respond. The defendant or defendants must then respond to the complaint by filing an answer. Once the pleadings have been filed, the case will then move to the discovery phase.
Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims in Arkansas and Oklahoma
If you believe that your injuries were caused by a defective product in Arkansas or Oklahoma, it is important to understand the statute of limitations. Every state has statutes of limitations that limit how long people have to file legal actions.
In Arkansas, the product liability statute of limitations is found at Ark. Code § 16-116-203, which provides that a civil complaint must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for product liability and other personal injury cases is found at Okla. Stat. § 12-95. Under this statute, victims can file a complaint within two years of the date of their injuries from defective products. Both states also follow the discovery rule, which can extend the limitations period. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations starts to run on the date that the person discovers or reasonably should have discovered that his or her injuries were causally connected to the defective product.
Because of the complexities that may be involved, a product liability case normally requires significant investigation. For this reason, people should act as soon as they are injured by a product they believe is defective instead of waiting until the limitation period is almost over.
Speak to an Experienced Product Liability Attorney
If you believe that your injuries or your loved one’s death were caused by a defective product, you should speak to the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook as soon as possible. Call 479-783-8000 (Fort Smith), 918-912-2132 (Tulsa), or 479-455-2210 (Fayetteville) to schedule your free consultation.