Alaska Product Liability Law

Alaskans rely on a wide variety of products every day, from blackout curtains during those long days of summer sunlight to specialty gear for fishing on the Kenai Peninsula. Luckily, the state's product liability laws provide a means for seeking compensation from the manufacturer if one of these products is defective and causes injury or property damage.

The following table provides key sections of Alaska's product liability laws, followed by a description of the state's filing deadlines, limits on damages, potential defenses, and more.

Statute of Limitations

2 years (Sec. 09.10.070)

Discovery Rule Used Yes (Preblich v. Zorea, 996 P2d 730, 734 (Alaska 2000))
Statute of Repose Not applicable to product liability cases, 10 years for some other claims (Sec. 09.10.055)
Limits on Damages

Intermediate economic loss rule (Northern Power & Eng'g Corp. v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 623 P.2d 324 (Alaska 1981)); punitive and noneconomic damages limited (Sec. 09.17.020 and Sec. 09.17.010)

Comparative Fault Pure Comparative Fault (Sec. 09.17.060)

Time Limits

Although you are able to seek compensation for your injuries through Alaska's product liability laws, the state's deadline ("statute of limitations") for filing those lawsuits is usually two years from the date of the injury. However, you may get more time because of Alaska's discovery rule which says that the time frame starts when you discover, or should have discovered, the existence of the cause of action.

Limits on Damages

Alaska law also limits damages in some cases, including caps on punitive and noneconomic damages. Under the state's pure comparative negligence rule you may still recover damages if you're partly to blame for your injuries or property damage, but those damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. This means that if you were 75 percent at fault, your $10,000 award will be reduced to $2,500. Alaska also follows an intermediate economic loss rule. This means that even if the only harm was to the product itself, you still may recover if the product created a potentially dangerous situation to people or other property.

Theories of Liability

In Alaska, you can file a products liability lawsuit on any of the following grounds:

  1. A manufacturing defect
  2. A design defect
  3. A failure to warn
  4. Breach of warranty

In design defect cases, the danger is inherent in the manufacturer's plans for the product. The product is considered defective if it failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable way. Or, it may be considered defective if the risks inherent in the design outweigh the design's benefits. There is a manufacturing defect, on the other hand, when the product strays from the manufacturer's intended result, no matter how safe the design.

You may also argue that the manufacturer had a duty to warn people of the dangers of using its product. This duty to warn continues to exist even after the product is sold if the danger is potentially life-threatening. Lastly, if you can show that there was either an express or implied warranty, and that the manufacturer breached that warranty, you may be able to prevail on those grounds.

Defenses

The defendant in a product liability suit may deny liability by arguing that the product was substantially modified after it left the defendant's possession, or that the product's danger was not scientifically knowable at the time. The defendant can also argue that the plaintiff is at least partially at fault because he or she knowingly assumed the risk or misused the product.

Get a Free Case Review from an Alaska Attorney

Whether they're supplying snowmobiles or kayaks, manufacturers have a duty to provide products that are reasonably safe for their end users. If they fail to do so, they should be held accountable for any injuries and property damage that may result. If you've been harmed by a defective product, receive a free case review from a local attorney familiar with Alaska's product liability laws.

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