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Lawsuit for Fire Caused by a Defective Product

Find Out Whether You Can Bring A Lawsuit for a Fire Caused by a Defective Product

You buy and use many products during the course of your life, and you probably assume that they will be safe and work as they are supposed to. But unsafe products sometimes find their way to the marketplace, and they can and do cause harm.

If you bought a product and used it as intended, only to have a defect in the product cause a harmful fire, you may have grounds for a defective product lawsuit. There are a wide range of defective products that have been known to cause fires, including seemingly innocuous household appliances such as electric heaters, toasters, alarm clocks, electric blankets, refrigerators, oven, hair dryers, and hot water heaters, as well as commercial products and defective auto parts that cause crashes that lead to fires.  These fires can lead to destruction of your home and property, and injuries that can be painful, devastating and even lead to death.

Manufacturers are supposed to ensure that their products are safe when used correctly, and if the product has some inherent danger, they must provide clear warnings. If they fail to do so and you or a loved one has been harmed or someone has died because the defective product caused a fire, it is possible to get compensation for your losses by bringing a fire product liability lawsuit against any responsible party. This may include the manufacturer, wholesaler, designer, distributor, or salesperson of the product liable for the damages caused by the fire.

Our Defective Product Injury Lawyer Can Help with Your Case

A product liability action can be brought against all parties who are engaged in placing the product in commerce as a regular business. However, Alabama product liability laws are complicated; insurance companies who are out for profit want to pay out as little as possible; and lawyers for defendants will try to make it seem as if you are to blame for the problem.  It makes sense to enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer who knows the system and handles product liability cases to fight for the compensation you deserve.

The seasoned personal injury lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana offer a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your defective product situation and determine whether you have a valid case and how much it may be worth. We have the resources to conduct an investigation and locate all parties who may be responsible and find the evidence that will hold them accountable.

The sooner you contact us after the accident, the sooner we can get to work and the greater the chance that we can find the evidence we need while witnesses can be found and evidence is available. Also, Ala. Code. Sec. 6-2-38 sets a statute of limitations, a deadline for filing personal injury claims. In general, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit, unless there are exceptions that apply. If you do not file your claim within the two-year period, the courts will probably dismiss your case. Even if you are trying to collect payment from insurance companies, you will have lost the leverage in negotiations of being able to threaten to take your case to court.

Our firm works on a contingency basis, so there are no fees until we win your case. Call Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana at (251) 444-7000 to schedule a free consultation with our trial lawyers today.

Can I Sue for a Fire Caused by a Product Defect?

You can sue for a fire caused by a product defect, as long as you can show that you were a person reasonably expected to use the product, and that you used the product correctly, for the purpose for which it was intended, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In Alabama, there are basic legal theories that are used in products liability cases:

  1. Negligence. The defendantwho produced or distributed the product was negligent or careless in some way. An example is not providing a warning that a space heater should not be used with extension cords, an omission that led to a fire.
  2. Strict Liability. For strict liability, you do not have to prove that the defendants were negligent. You just have to show thatthe product was defective or unreasonably dangerous, that the defect caused the fire that injured you, that the defendant was involved in placing it in commerce, and that the defect caused the injury. A product is considered unreasonably dangerous if it fails to perform in a way that could be reasonably expected given the nature and purpose of the product.
  3. Breach of warranty. Warrantees are guarantees for consumer products which typically promise that the product will perform to a certain standard.

Defective Product that Caused a Fire: Legal Case Involving Amazon

A high-profile case of a defective product that resulted in a fire is the subject of a recent lawsuit against Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. Through Amazon, a Tennessee family purchased an allegedly defective hoverboard, which later caused a fire destroying their $1 million home and risked the lives of their two teenage children.

Amazon had previously sent an email to purchasers that discussed “safety issues” with products containing lithium-ion batteries, including hoverboards. They did this because of an Amazon investigation that revealed fire dangers associated with faulty hoverboards coming from Chinese manufacturers. However, Amazon never notified customers about the results of that investigation.

Although Amazon maintained that it was only an online advertising portal and could not be held liable, the court ruled that by sending that email, Amazon was aware that the warning was necessary. The Pittsburgh Legal Examiner reported that the company settled the lawsuit for an unknown amount ahead of the trial, which had been scheduled for November 2020.

Can a Manufacturer Be Held Responsible for a Fire Caused by Their Product?

A manufacturer can be held responsible for a fire caused by their product, if the defects in the product caused the fire.

According to Alabama Code Section 6-5-521, products liability actions can be brought for “personal injury, death, or property damage caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formula, preparation, assembly, installation, testing, warnings, instructions, marketing, packaging, or labeling of a manufactured product when such action is based upon (1) negligence, (2) innocent or negligent misrepresentation, (3) the manufacturer’s liability doctrine, (4) the Alabama extended manufacturer’s liability doctrine … (5) breach of any implied warranty, or (6) breach of any oral express warranty and no other.”

Alabama’s extended manufacturer’s liability doctrine (AEMLD) says that liability occurs if you can show that …

  • The product was placed into commerce.
  • The product reached you without substantial alteration.
  • You used the product as intended or in a way that was reasonably foreseeable.
  • The product was defective or unreasonably dangerous at the time the injury occurred.
  • The defect led to the fire that caused you harm.

Alabama uses the doctrine of contributory negligence as a rule for determining liability. This means that if you did something that was negligent when using the product, you will not be allowed to recover any damages. As a result of this doctrine, attorneys for defendants will try to claim that the fire was caused by some negligent action on your part and that you are therefore not entitled to compensation. Our attorneys will anticipate these arguments and find ways to show that you used the product correctly, but its defects caused you harm.

We will look to show that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous in one of three basic ways:

Defect due to manufacturing. There was anerror or defect in the manufacturing process that produced a defect in the product. In this case, you do not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent or knew or should have known about the manufacturing defect..

Design defect. The product was defective or unreasonably dangerous because of something wrong with the design that caused it to be unsafe. You would have to prove the defective design was in some way negligent or that there was a cost-effective alternative design that would have been safe, in which case, strict liability would apply and the manufacturer will be liable.

Marketing defect. There was a problem due to inaccurate or inadequate labeling, inaccurate or inadequate instructions, or a failure to warn about a known danger. The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer is not required to warn of a danger that is obvious but is required to warn about a danger it knows about.

Some products are inherently dangerous when used for their purpose, in which case the manufacturer is required to warn only of non-obvious dangers. For example, an electric iron will get hot enough to be inherently dangerous, but it needs to be hot in order to iron correctly. A manufacturer that warns about the dangers of normal use is not liable if you placed the hot iron down on a flammable substance and this starts a fire, but the manufacturer could be held liable if a defect in the electrical system caused a fire.

What Compensation Can I Get for a Fire Caused by a Defective Product?

In a successful case for a fire caused by a defective product in Alabama, you may be entitled to a range of damages that include compensatory damages for your economic and non-economic losses, and, in some cases, for punitive damages.

  • Economic damages. These are designed to reimburse you for financial costs that have a specific dollar value. Damages may include payment for your current and future medical and rehabilitation bills, property damages, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and funeral costs in case of death.
  • Non-economic damages. These types of damages cover intangible injuries that do not have a specific dollar value. Examples may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, embarrassment, and loss of consortium or enjoyment of life.
  • Punitive damages. In some cases, you may also be awarded punitive damages. These serve as a punishment for the defendant’s bad actions and as an example so that others are less likely to engage in similar conduct. Alabama Code Section 6-11-20 limits punitive damages to claims involving death and cases where the defendant acted fraudulently, maliciously, or with “a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

Our Attorneys Can Help with Your Case

Trying to recover after a fire caused by a defective product is overwhelming, as you may have to deal with loss of income from being unable to work, mounting medical, hospital, and rehabilitation bills, and personal property losses, as well as pain and suffering.

Our attorneys understand what you are going through and will deal with handling all legal aspects of your case and negotiations with insurance companies, so you can concentrate on your recovery. We can help by:

  • Determining whether you have a valid case and what it may be worth
  • Investigating what happened to prove the defendant’s negligence by gathering evidence such as from surveillance cameras and eyewitness, police, and medical reports
  • Filing all paperwork in a timely manner
  • Hiring experts to testify on your behalf
  • Negotiating with insurance companies for a fair settlement
  • Taking your case to court if necessary.

When a defective product causes severe injuries, call our team at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana at 251-444-7000. Let us start fighting for your rights, justice, and the settlement you deserve today.

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