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Fort Smith Fatal Product Liability Lawyers

Arkansas Defective Product Attorneys with Over 25 Years of Experience

Most new products we buy at the store or online work as intended. We trust they have been designed safely and made correctly. Sometimes the unthinkable happens, though, and a product manufacturer cuts corners to get an item to market, does not warn end users of potential dangers when using the product, or has not done enough testing.

When a manufacturer skips a step in the process to design, create and make a product or rushes it to completion without a thorough vetting, that negligence conduct can result in severe injuries or even death for the end user. 

Since they are complicated, a person wishing to file a lawsuit must discuss their defective product encounter with an experienced fatal product liability attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield in Springdale, Arkansas. The statute of limitations for all product liability actions is three years after the date of injury, damage, or death. Although this may seem like much time, it often takes months to collect all relevant information and evidence to build a case.

What Product Liability Means

Product liability concerns arise once an individual sustains a serious injury or dies from using a defective product. It also refers to how important it is for manufacturers to ensure a product undergoes thorough research design, preparation, and testing before it is distributed to consumers. 

A product creator, consumer chain of designer, distributor, and the seller may be held responsible for any injuries or wrongful death. If someone dies due to a defective product, the individual’s estate can file a lawsuit against the chain of people associated with the defective product.

Product liability casts a wide circle when something happens to a consumer. According to Arkansas law, a product liability claim includes personal injury, death, or property damage. It must have resulted from poor preparation, design, manufacturing, construction, service, testing, and product labeling. End products must meet specific standards and be safe for consumers to use or consume. If they are not, there is a warrant to file a lawsuit.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Defective Product Injury?

A product is expected to meet a consumer’s ordinary expectations and not cause harm when used as intended. However, products can fall short of this goal if a manufacturing, design, or marketing defect exists. Thus, the following links in the manufacturing chain can be held liable for a defective product:

  • Manufacturers;
  • Designers;
  • Suppliers;
  • Distributors;
  • Wholesalers; and
  • Retailers.

It is essential also to understand the concept of strict liability when it comes to fatal product liability. Strict liability means the direct responsibility (read liability) of a party (read manufacturer) without fault. Strict liability is an issue only when “inherently dangerous” products cause harm, not when wrongdoing is present.

Although manufacturers should enable rigorous testing before releasing products to consumers, this does not always happen. This can happen through poor team communication, design, manufacturing device issues, and employee mistakes. There could be several reasons a product is considered defective, which is why it’s best to speak with an attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield about your specific situation.

Types of Possible Defective Products

In most instances, it turns out to be the company that made the product that can be held responsible for negligence. Possible faulty products can include:

  • Auto Products – Defective brakes, a malfunctioning engine, and faulty tires can cause an accident, injuries, and death.
  • Aircraft Products – Negligent manufacturing of plane components can result in fatal accidents.
  • Dangerous Drugs – Medications can cause serious side effects that lead to additional health issues and complications. Hazardous drugs can kill. Drugs are not always tested as rigorously as they should be to reduce or rule out dangerous side effects or death.
  • Household Items – Children’s toys, furniture, cribs, fans, and other everyday items can later be found to contain hazardous and fatal components.
  • Medical Devices – Any defective medical products can put many patients at risk of severe injuries or death.

Some examples of inherently dangerous situations can include, but not be limited to:

  • Medical devices causing infections and bacterial contamination;
  • Storage of hazardous chemicals;
  • Using harmful chemicals, such as herbicides;
  • Using explosives, e.g., in construction, mining; and
  • Storage of flammable products.

How Does a Product Become Defective?

Generally speaking, if a product is defective, it most likely becomes that way during manufacturing. However, there are other phases where a mishap in production can create a severe defect. Those phases include:

  • Product Resources – If a product is made cheaply or with materials that degrade over time, it can become defective. If that product requires electricity to run, the product becomes even more deadly, and a possible fire hazard arises.
  • Design Flaws – Any flaw in a product’s design can turn it into a dangerous product. If the design affects the critical components of a product, and the product is unable to be used as intended, then problems will occur.
  • Packaging Errors – While the product inside the packaging may be safe, it may be incorrectly packaged, causing it to become defective. If product packaging is done poorly through poor user instructions, lack of instructions, broken sealing, or damaged packaging, then there is room to question why the manufacturer did not catch this error. If the product is used, it omits health risks to consumers that can lead to their or their children’s severe injuries or death.
  • Defective Product Design – The design may turn into an inherently dangerous product that could cause death. This can be difficult since, as a plaintiff, an injured person filing a lawsuit against a company holds the burden of proving a design defect was present. Our attorneys will help you piece together the critical evidence to support your claim. Please speak with us today to learn more.
  • Defective Manufacturing – The original design undergoes a shift in the production process. Once the original product plans are not adhered to, dangerous situations and even death can happen. This could involve substituted materials, sharp edges, corners, or missing bolts and screws.
  • Defective Marketing or Advertising – A product is not advertised correctly or does not properly instruct consumers how to use or handle it. There is no proper warning about the dangers associated with using a product. There may also be an improper placement of a warning label that the consumer does not readily see.

Contact a fatal product liability attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield if you have lost someone you love because of a defective product. We know exactly how to help you and protect your legal rights.

What Are the Three Types of Product Liability Lawsuits?

There are no concrete federal product liability statutes. Each state sets its rules and regulations. All products must legally meet a minimum quality and safety standard. The fatal product liability attorneys at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield effectively use the following methods to determine blame:

  • Strict Liability;
  • Negligence; and
  • Breach of warranty.

Despite the deadline in the statute, Arkansas’s discovery rules state that the close does not run until the individual knew or should have known or discovered the connection between the product and the harm or death suffered.

Arkansas follows the modified comparative negligence doctrine. If a plaintiff does not recover, they are found to be equal to or greater than fifty percent responsible for an injury or death. If the plaintiff is less than fifty percent to blame, damages are reduced proportionally to the determined degree of fault.

What Are the Elements of a Successful Product Liability Claim?

To increase the chances of obtaining total compensation for your fatal product liability case, you need to prove four things:

  • You were injured and sustained losses, or a loved one died;
  • The product involved in the accident or death is defective;
  • The defective product was the direct cause of severe injury or death; and
  • The product used was being used as intended.

Defenses For Fatal Product Liability in Arkansas

In a fatal product liability case, the defendant may try to argue that the plaintiff understood the specific danger of using the product and, in doing so, voluntarily assumed the risks of using it.

Another defense is that there is no duty to warn consumers about apparent dangers. Also, a manufacturer may deny responsibility for a fatality involving their product if it reveals that it was significantly altered or modified after it left the manufacturing plant. Or that a middle-man or supplier sold the product past the expiration date set by the maker.

Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield if someone you love lost their life in a fatal product accident. Companies and manufacturers must protect their customers’ safety to the best of their abilities. If they fail in that duty, the deceased’s surviving family members have the right to hold them responsible. 

Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield 

Contact our office for experienced legal assistance in dealing with a fatal product liability case. Our decades of experience mean we can help you obtain fair and equitable compensation for a devastating loss.

If you reside in Springdale and neighboring towns and suffer injuries after using a defective product, we are the legal professionals to consider when you need help. Call our law offices today at (479) 361-3575 to schedule a free case evaluation. We are here to help you navigate your difficult time and offer you and your family the support you need to move forward.

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