It's common knowledge each state has a statute of limitations that specifies the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after your loved one is fatally injured by a product. What's not as well known is many states have statute of repose laws that can prevent you from filing a wrongful death/product liability lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations hasn't expired. Here's the lowdown on these laws and how they affect your case.
Statute of Repose vs. Statute of Limitations
With statute of limitation laws, the time limit is typically based on when the person died. Florida requires plaintiffs to file a wrongful death lawsuit within 4 years after an individual's death, for instance.
The statute of repose when applied to product liability and associated personal injury lawsuits, on the other hand, is typically based on the day the product was created. The state will set the number of years after the product creation date the manufacturer can be sued for injuries. Lawsuits filed after the statute of repose has expired are generally rejected by the court.
For example, Washington State's statute of repose is 12 years for products. If your loved one uses a product in the 13th year and dies as a result, the defendant can get the case thrown out of court because the statute of repose had been expired when the person used the product.
Getting Around the Statute of Repose
States tend to be strict when applying the statute of repose, and getting around it will require taking a very close look at the wording of the law. For instance, Washington State bases its statute of repose on the amount of time the state believes a product will be safe to use. However, some products are designed to be safe to use for longer than the time period set by the government. If your state has similar laws and you can prove the product that killed your loved one is designed to be safer for longer than the statute deadline, the court may allow your wrongful death case to proceed.
Sometimes the statute of repose can be restarted. In the case Sulak v. American Eurocopter Corp., the court gave an opinion about a rolling provision in the General Aviation Revitalization Act that stated any new part, system, or component that replaced another part, system, or component in or was added to an aircraft restarted the statute of repose on the day the replacement or addition was made. However, the statute will only be restarted if the new part was the cause of the person's death. If your state has similar provisions in its statute of repose laws, then you may be able to take advantage of them to get permission to file a lawsuit.
For more information, contact Fitzsimmons & Vervaecke Law Firm or a similar organization.Share
19 April 2016
Defective products are produced and sold to consumers all of the time. Unfortunately, some of these defective products cause consumers injuries when they malfunction. So, what can you do if a defective product causes you or someone that you love some kind of injury? This blog will show you how the legal system works to protect consumers from instances such as this. You will find out about personal injury lawsuits and what it takes to file and proceed with a lawsuit to hold the company that manufactured that defective product responsible for the role that they played in the pain that has been experienced.