Alabama Product Liability Laws

Whether you "Roll Tide" for the University of Alabama, or "War Eagle" for Auburn University, Alabamans use a large variety of products to get through their day. A product liability lawsuit is the legal action you would take against a manufacturer or seller if one of those products turns out to be defective and causes you harm.

Key portions of Alabama product liability laws are outlined in the table below, followed by more in-depth descriptions of Alabama's filing deadlines, limits on damages, defenses to product liability claims, and more.

Statute of Limitations

2 years for personal injury, property damage, or death (Sec. 6-2-38)

1 year for actions against an original seller (Sec. 6-5-502)

Discovery Rule Used Limited discovery rule (Sec. 6-5-502(2)(b))
Statute of Repose No (Struck down as unconstitutional in Lankford v. Sullivan, Long & Hagerty, 416 So. 2d 996 (1982))
Limits on Damages

Economic loss rule (Lloyd Word Coal Co. v. Clark Equip. Co., 543 So. 2d 671 (1989); punitive damages allowed under certain conditions (Sec. 6-11-20)

Comparative Fault Pure Contributory Negligence (Williams v. Delta International Machinery Corp., 619 So. 2d 1330 (1993))

Time Limits

Alabama has a relatively short statute of limitations, as you have just two years from the date of the injury, death, or property damage in which to file your product liability claim. If your case involves exposure to a harmful substance and you weren't immediately aware of the injury, Alabama's limited discovery rule gives you one year from when you discovered (or should have discovered) the harm.

Limits on Damages

Alabama limits damages in some product liability cases. Under the state's strict pure contributory negligence standard, you are completely barred from recovering any damages if you were partially at fault for the harm that occurred. Also, Alabama's economic loss rule does not allow for recovery if the defect only damages the product itself, not a person or other property. Additionally, the state limits punitive damages to claims involving death and cases where the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted fraudulently, maliciously, or with "a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others."

Proving Liability

In Alabama, theories of liability include claims based on negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability through Alabama extended manufacturer's liability doctrine (AEMLD). Under the AEMLD, you must prove that that the product reached the user without substantial alteration, and that you suffered injury or property damage due to a product's defective condition which made the product unreasonably dangerous. To judge this, the court considers whether the product meets the reasonable expectations of an ordinary consumer with respect to its safety.

A product may be considered defective in design, manufacturing, or because of a failure to warn its users, and the liability for these damages extends to manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers. In design defect cases, you argue that the danger lies in the manufacturer's intended design, and that a safer, alternative design was available. In manufacturing defect cases, the claim is that the product has an unintended flaw, so that even if the product was designed to be safe, the end result was an unsafe product which strayed from its intended design.

The plaintiff may also claim that the manufacturer knew that its product might be dangerous and had a duty to warn end users about it, but failed to do so. Here, you must show that you would have read and heeded the warning had it been adequately provided.

Defenses

In addition to time-limit and contributory negligence arguments, the defendant in a product liability suit may present evidence to refute any part of the plaintiff's case. He or she may also argue that the product was modified or misused after it left the defendant's control, or that the plaintiff understood the product's danger and used it anyway.

Get a Free Case Review from an Alabama Attorney

Manufacturers and sellers have a duty to supply products that are reasonably safe when used as intended. When they fail to do so, and you're hurt by the latest BBQ contraption or toy rocket, you may be entitled to compensation. Get a free case review from an experienced attorney familiar with Alabama's product liability laws.

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