STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: FILING DEADLINES IN PRODUCT LIABILITY CASES
What Is Your Deadline and Why Does It Matter?
All product liability lawsuits have a filing deadline, or statute of limitations (SOL). The SOL is generally determined by the date your injury occurred or should have been discovered.
SOL deadlines are set independently by each state. Most deadlines are two or three years. However, not every state has the same deadline, and many states include other factors in addition to date of injury.
When it comes to mass tort litigations, statute of limitation depends on several factors, including where you live and where and when the case is filed. For example, if the case is filed in a state with a one-year SOL, and you initiate your claim two years after your injury, then the SOL deadline will already have passed before your case could have been filed.
As if that weren’t complex enough, there’s also the discovery rule. It comes into play when the injury date is too far in the past to fall within the relevant SOL. The discovery rule lets you use the date you first realized your injury was caused by the product being brought to suit.
For instance, you have a serious medical complication after taking a medication. You undergo treatment. A few years later, you see an advertisement or news report and realize that the medication you took might be the reason you had the medical complication, so you call Davis & Crump to look into starting a case. Under the discovery rule, we might be able to use the date you first contact our office to set the filing deadline.
While the discovery rule is sometimes helpful in filing a case, it doesn’t always come into play in settlement structures. Some settlements use SOL criteria when allocating funds to claimants, and in those cases, they may look strictly at the date the injury was first reported to your medical provider rather than the date the suit was initiated.
Say you have a case where statute of limitations is a consideration in the allocation of settlement funds, and your date of injury was three years prior to the date you retained our office. If your case was started after the statute of limitations had passed for the state in which your case was filed, it might result in a reduction of your offer amount.
What it boils down to is this: if you are contemplating filing a product liability suit, don’t wait too long to contact an attorney. It might mean the difference between having a case and not having one. Contact us now for a free claim evaluation.