Just like other states, Arizona has its own rules for when a defective product causes injury or property damage. The Copper State's product liability laws are meant to hold manufacturers and sellers accountable for their dangerous products, and allow you to seek monetary compensation for any injuries they cause.
The table below lists important aspects of Arizona's product liability laws, followed by explanations of the state's filing time limits, possible defenses, limits on damages, and more.
|Statute of Limitations||
2 years (Sec. 12-542)
|Discovery Rule Used||Yes (Lawhon v. L.B.J. Institutional Supply, Inc., 765 P. 2d 1003, 1007 (Ct. App. 1988))|
|Statute of Repose||No (Sec. 12-551 declared unconstitutional in Hazine v. Montgomery Elevator, 861 P.2d 625 (Ariz. 1993))|
|Limits on Damages||
Intermediate economic loss rule (Salt River Project Agr. Imp. & Power Dist. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 143 Ariz. 368, (1984))
|Comparative Fault||Pure Comparative Fault (Sec. 12-2505)|
Arizona's deadline for filing product liability lawsuits is usually two years from the date of the injury. Under Arizona's discovery rule, the clock doesn't start ticking until you discover, or should have discovered, the injury or property damage.
Limits on Damages
Arizona limits damages via its pure comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, you may still recover damages even if you're partly at fault for the accident, but those damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. So, if you would have been awarded $50,000, but you're 60 percent to blame, your award is reduced to $20,000. However, you are barred from any recovery if you intentionally caused or contributed to the harm.
Arizona also has an intermediate economic loss rule that applies when there is no contract between the parties and the only harm that occurs is to the product itself. In these cases, you might still recover damages, but you must show that the product was unreasonably dangerous and the loss occurred in a sudden, accidental manner.
Theories of Liability
A product liability action in Arizona can be based on negligence or strict liability. As the plaintiff, you must prove that the defendant manufactured or sold a defective product that was unreasonably dangerous, and that product caused injury or property damage. Claims may include allegations of design defect, manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn or provide proper instructions for the use of the product.
In design defect cases, there is an inherent flaw in the manufacturer's design for the product. It's considered defective if it failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in a reasonably foreseeable way, or if the risks of the design outweigh the benefits. The product has a manufacturing defect if it has a condition the manufacturer didn't intend and it fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in a reasonably foreseeable way.
You may also claim that the manufacturer had a duty to warn people if it would be unreasonably dangerous for someone to use the product in a reasonably foreseeable way without adequate warnings or instructions.
The defendant in a product liability suit may argue that they are not liable because the defect was a result of a process that was state of the art at the time. They may also contend that the real cause of the harm was substantial modification or misuse that was not reasonably foreseeable. Lastly, a defendant could deny liability in a food product defect case by showing that the plaintiff's overconsumption was the real cause of the injury.
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There are a number of different ways to argue a product liability lawsuit, and the best approach depends on the specifics of your case. If you've been injured or suffered property damage as a result of a defective product, you should not have to bear those costs alone, but you need to act promptly because there are time limits for filing your claim. Get a free case review from an experienced attorney who knows Arizona's product liability laws.
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