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Experienced Attorneys, Aggressive Representation

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Defective Product Cases?

A defective products lawyer calculates the statute of limitations for a client's case, taking notes on paper.

There is often a sense of betrayal when someone finds out that a product is defective. Products are purchased with the expectation that they will perform their intended function or fulfill a need. Consumers are left with frustration and disappointment when their product fails to meet these expectations. Some consumers are left with injuries from having used the defective product and these injuries can be severe depending on the product and the defect.

If you have been injured because you used a defective product, one of the many questions you probably have is how long you have to file a product liability claim for the damages you have suffered.

What Is Product Liability?

The legal liability of a manufacturer and seller for producing or selling a defective or faulty product is product liability.

Product liability cases are based on the following:

You must file your claim for compensation for your injuries before the time limit set by the statute of limitations has expired. The Missouri courts set the statute of limitations and specific deadlines for filing product liability claims.

The experienced lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer will answer all of your questions about your product liability lawsuit. They will also help you understand the requirements involved in building a case to receive your full compensation.

Consumers who buy products have the right to use them without becoming injured through proper and intended use. When a problem with the item causes an injury, the consumer has the right to file a claim with the civil court to obtain compensation for the damages they have suffered.

These cases are governed by product liability laws and they determine whether the designer, manufacturer, or seller should be held responsible for fault in the product. This entity would have to pay the victim for their damages.

Types of Product Defects

According to the U.S. Legal Definitions, a defective product is an imperfection in a product that has a manufacturing or design defect, or is faulty because of inadequate instructions or warnings. A product is in a defective condition if it is unreasonably dangerous to the user or to the consumer who purchases the product and causes physical harm. There are essentially three types of defects that will potentially result in product liability claims. These three types of defects are as follows:

  1. Design
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Marketing

Design

A design defect is a problem in the product’s design, or blueprint that causes it to be unsafe. For example, a ladder that has poorly designed rungs that will buckle under a person’s weight if they use it at a certain angle, or the hinges are made of a weak material that only allow the ladder to be opened and closed so many times before breaking. These defects should be caught in product testing. When the designer knows about the defects, they weigh their options if either fixing the problem or ignoring it and hoping that the consumer will not cause the product to fail by using it in the way that makes the defects apparent.

Manufacturing

Defects also occur during the manufacturing process. The design of the product is appropriate in this case, but an error has occurred that rendered the product dangerous. An example of a common manufacturing defect is an improperly cured tire. When a tire has not cured correctly during the manufacturing process, the consequential defect may cause the tire tread to separate and the consumer will experience a loss of control as a result.

Marketing

Products need to be marketed for their specific purpose and should disclose warnings of the potential dangers involved with the expected and reasonable use of the product. For example, a stroller that was designed for a doll should not be used for a child. The stroller should be advertised as being for dolls and should display warnings against using it for children and should include the maximum weight allowance.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that places a limit on how much time can pass after an injury or damage occurs and when the victim files a claim for compensation for damages. These laws exist to protect the defendant from being perpetually liable for their products or actions. After the time specified by the law has passed, the court almost never allows a victim to make a claim for compensation.

Without a statute of limitations, people would be able to indefinitely hold a lawsuit above someone else in a threatening manner. Evidence and testimony from witnesses would degrade over time leaving the case more and more difficult to prove. The statute of limitations ensures fairness and justice for everyone involved.

What Is the Missouri Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims?

The statute of limitations for product liability in Missouri is five years from the date of injury. Different states have varying timelines and Missouri is actually more generous than most other states. Even though you have a good amount of time to file before the statute expires, waiting too long may hurt your case.

Evidence gets lost or altered and memories fade over time. When these things happen, it may be more difficult to receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

What Happens If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?

According to Cornell Law School, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the injury, or the date it was discovered, or the date on which it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts. If you surpass the deadline set by the statute of limitations, you are no longer eligible to file a claim for compensation. The five year period of time is strictly enforced in Missouri and the court will immediately dismiss any cases filed after that date.

The manufacturers and any other defendants will most likely refuse to negotiate with you or make any settlement offers because they know that you no longer have the right to make a viable legal claim for compensation.

Are There Exceptions to the Missouri Statute of Limitations?

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations, but they are few and should not be depended upon for every case. A lawyer specializing in defective products cases will help you know your options.

The Discovery Rule

Some circumstances allow for the discovery rule to be put into effect as an exception to the statute of limitations in Missouri. Normally, the deadline is calculated starting from the date of the initial injury, however, there are some situations in which the victim does not immediately know that an injury has occurred.

In these special circumstances, the discovery rule comes into play to provide a new start date. This new date will be set to the time when the injury or damage was reasonably determined.

The discovery rule extends the statute of limitations for victims who did not know that they had a case in time to meet the deadline. The lack of knowledge of their claim must be reasonable. For example, when someone is exposed to a harmful medication or other substance, the harmful effects may not become apparent until years later. Sometimes the victims are exposed for many years before discovering that the substance is causing them harm.

Minors or Mentally Incapacitated

There are also special considerations made for minors and the mentally incapacitated. The statute of limitations in Missouri is extended when the injury occurred to someone under 21 years of age. Their five year time limit will instead begin when the minor victim turns 21 years old.

According to Law Insider, “Mentally incapacitated means that a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his conduct owing to the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance administered to him without his consent, or to any other act committed upon him without his consent.” For someone who is mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations will begin when the individual is declared competent. These victims have usually suffered from severe brain injuries or other trauma.

Parents or legal guardians are able to file a claim for damages on their behalf before these special considerations are made.

Defendant Leaves Missouri

When a resident of Missouri causes an injury, but leaves the state during the time after the accident and before the victim files a claim for damages, the statute of limitations is affected. While the defendant remains out of state, the statute of limitations may be paused until they return.

For example, if the defendant leaves Missouri for six months, the victim will have an additional six months added on to the five years that the statute of limitations already allows to file a claim for compensation.

Extension for Plaintiff’s Death

Sometimes, injuries caused by defective products cause the death of the plaintiff, but the right to file a claim for damages lives on. The victim’s surviving family members are given an additional year to file a product liability lawsuit.

How Can I Know the Statute of Limitations for My Case?

Most cases fall within the regular five year term, but consulting with a defective product lawyer will determine whether you qualify for an exception and when the countdown to your deadline begins.

It is crucial that you begin your process as soon as possible as some exceptions are difficult to prove and you must file before the deadline.

Consult With Goldblatt +Singer About Your Options

If you or your loved one has been injured by a defective product, contact the experienced lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer right away at (314) 231-4100. Our team of defective product attorneys will build your case and help you through the complicated process of gathering evidence to support your claims. The product liability lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer work as a team to ensure that you have the best possible representation.

Free Consultation

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