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How Does the Statute of Limitations Affect a Products Liability Claim?

Those who are injured by defective products may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Anyone involved in the construction and distribution of the product may be held liable in a products liability lawsuit, including the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the distributor, and the retail store owner. However, in order to recover damages, plaintiffs must comply with the statute of limitations to file suit. The statute of limitations varies by state and can affect products liability claims differently.

Consumers expect the products they purchase to be safe; however, this is not always the case. Many defective products continue to be manufactured, marketed, and sold all across the United States. In Pennsylvania, those who are harmed by defective products may be able to obtain compensation from the responsible parties, such as the manufacturer and the seller.

When it comes to liability, intent does not matter. Under this strict liability offense, they will be liable if the defective product caused a plaintiff harm, regardless of their intention or precautions taken.

What are the Different Types of Defects?

There are generally three types of product defects that give rise to liability. To prevail, products liability plaintiffs must show that the product is defective in one of the following ways:

Defective Manufacture: This type of defect refers to a mistake in the manufacturing process that caused the product to be defective. In this case, the product departed from its intended design. Other renditions of the same product are free from defects, but this particular one contains a flaw due to some error in its manufacture. For example, installing improper components, attaching parts incorrectly, or using the wrong fasteners on mechanical parts would constitute a defective manufacture.

Defective Design: A product is defective in its design when it is inherently dangerous. Before the product was even manufactured, it contained a flaw in its design. In this case, the flaw lies not only in one particular rendition of the product, but rather in the entire line of products. No mistakes were made in the manufacturing process. Even though the products were made according to the manufacturer’s specifications, they are defective.

Failure to Warn: Manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers about certain risks and potential dangers of using the product, as well as a duty to provide adequate instructions on how to properly use the product. To prevail in this type of products liability claim, a plaintiff must have been unexpectedly injured by a product while using it in either the manner in which it was intended to be used or in a foreseeable manner.

How is Liability Determined?

There are two main concepts used in determining negligence: contributory negligence and comparative negligence. Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative fault rule, which specifies that plaintiffs must be 50 percent or less responsible for the incident in order to recover. As long as the manufacturer is more than 50 percent responsible, the plaintiff may recover for their injuries. The amount a plaintiff may recover depends on their percentage of fault.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Products Liability Claim?

All lawsuits must be brought within the legal time limits, also referred to as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies according to the type of claim being brought, as well as the state in which the claim is filed. For products liability claims, many states, including Pennsylvania, have a two-year statute of limitations. A products liability claim must be brought within two years from the date of injury. Therefore, if a plaintiff suffers a broken leg in a car accident because of an automotive defect, then they have two years from the date of the accident to file suit.

Not all cases are straightforward. For example, many workers were exposed to asbestos years ago, and mesothelioma has a long latency period. Those who have it may not show symptoms for decades. In this type of situation, some states would allow the statute of limitations to toll when the injured person discovers their injury or illness. Therefore, those who were exposed to asbestos 20 years ago may still be entitled to compensation. The statute of limitations would begin to run from the day they were diagnosed.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

In Pennsylvania, there are only two exceptions to the two-year products liability statute of limitations: the discovery rule and the statute of repose. The discovery rule applies when the defect was fraudulently concealed. If an injured person discovers their injury after two years due to fraudulent concealment, they may still have a viable claim. The statute of limitations would only begin to run when the person learned that the product defect caused their injury.

The other exception to the statute of limitations is called the statute of repose. This rule sets forth a specific time limit for products liability claims, which typically starts from the date the product is first sold. The statute of repose in Pennsylvania pertains to defective real estate improvements. According to the rule, claimants have 12 years from the completion of construction to bring a claim relating to defective real estate improvements. Such claims may be brought for personal injury, damage to property, or wrongful death.

It is imperative for those who have been injured by a defective product to act quickly. The sooner a claim is filed, the better. Not only will filing a claim early ensure that the statute of limitations is met, but it will also facilitate the claim’s timely settlement.

Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Provide Legal Guidance to Clients Injured by Defective Products

If you were injured by a defective product, contact a Philadelphia products liability lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our legal team will ensure that your claim is filed in a timely and thorough manner. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.