Individual States 

ALABAMA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk bars recovery in negligence and strict liability claims, and is narrowly confined and restricted by two requirements: (1) knowledge and appreciation by the plaintiff of the danger he is incurring; and (2) voluntary consent to bear that risk. Kelton v. Gulf States Steel, Inc., 575 So.2d 1054 (Ala. 1991) ; Ala. R. Civ. Proc. 8(c) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

Double recovery is not allowed in product liability actions for medical and hospital expenses. Ala. Code §§6-5-520 to 6-5-525 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Contributory negligence bars recovery, and has not been abandoned for comparative fault. In product liability actions under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine, contributory negligence is limited to plaintiff's failure to exercise reasonable care in using the product, not in causing the accident. Such contributory negligence in using the product will still bar recovery even where an unreasonably dangerous condition of the product was also a contributing proximate cause of the accident. Williams v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp., 619 So. 2d 1330 (Ala. 1993) ; Ala. R. Civ. Proc. 8(c) .

Last clear chance rule bars the defense of contributory negligence: a victim's initial contributory negligence in placing himself in a position of peril is no defense where the defendant was subsequently negligent in failing to avoid the accident. However, the last clear chance rule does not apply where the manifestation of the plaintiff's peril and the accident are virtually instantaneous. Shows v. Donnell Trucking Co., 631 So. 2d 1010 (Ala. 1994) .

ECONOMIC LOSS

The economic loss rule prevents tort recovery when a product damages itself, causing economic loss, but does not cause personal injury or damage to property other than the product itself. Lloyd Wood Coal Co. v. Clark Equip. Co., 543 So.2d 671 (Ala.1989) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Joint and several liability is still applied. Contribution or indemnity among joint tortfeasors is not allowed, except when an agreement exists between the liable parties clearly indicating indemnity of the type of conduct in question. Crigler v. Salac, 438 So.2d 1375 (Ala. 1983) .

Defendant is precluded from arguing another tortfeasor's negligence unless act or omission of other tortfeasor was intervening cause. Springer v. Jefferson County, 595 So. 2d 1381 (Ala. 1992) .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages require clear and convincing evidence that defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to plaintiff. Ala. Code §6-11-20 .

No award of punitive damages shall exceed the greater of three times the compensatory damages or $500,000. With small businesses (net worth of $2,000,000 or less at the time of the occurrence), shall not exceed the greater of $50,000 or 10 percent of the business' net worth. In cases of physical injury, shall not exceed the greater of three times the compensatory damages or $1,500,000. This section does not apply to wrongful death or intentional infliction of physical injury. Ala. Code §6-11-21 .

None of these limitations apply to civil actions for wrongful death pursuant to Ala. Code §§6-5-391 and 6-5-410 . Ala. Code §6-11-29 .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

The general rule is no contribution among joint tortfeasors. However, contribution is allowed: (1) to a master from a servant when the master's liability is only due to the servant's negligence or fault; (2) when one tortfeasor is guilty of only passive or constructive negligence and the other is guilty of active negligence; and (3) when a party acts bona fide, under a supposition of the entire innocence and propriety of act. Crigler v. Salac, 438 So.2d 1375 (Ala. 1983) .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

Manufacturers or suppliers may defend against product liability under Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine (AELMD) if user made a substantial modification to the product which constituted a superseding cause of the accident. Johnson v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, 555 So. 2d 88 (Ala. 1989) .

Misuse of product is a defense to failure to warn under AEMLD. A manufacturer's duty to warn of the dangerous propensities of a product arises only when the product is unreasonably dangerous when put to its intended use. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. J.B. Plastics, Inc., 505 So. 2d 1223 (Ala. 1987) .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Product liability actions must be commenced within one year of the time the personal injury, death, or property damage occurs. In addition, where new governmental standards are imposed subsequent to sale, any product liability action based thereon must be commenced within one year from the time the claimant discovered or should have discovered the personal injury, death, or property damage. Ala. Code §6-5-502(a) to (b) .

A breach of warranty action must be brought within four years. Ala. Code §7-2-725 .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

Causes of action asserted in Alabama courts more than 20 years after initiation have been considered extinguished by a common law rule of repose. Ex parte Liberty Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 825 So. 2d 758, (2002) .

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

In any civil action based on tort, or personal injury under breach of warranty (except actions for wrongful death), periodic payment for the portion of future damages exceeding $150,000 and apportioned attorney fees may be authorized provided the defendant gives financial assurances. Ala. Code §§6-11-1 to 6-11-7 .