From airbags to vacuum cleaners, it’s reasonable to assume the products you rely on every day are generally safe. As long as you use them as instructed, the items you purchase shouldn’t pose an injury risk to you or your loved ones.
As recall notices demonstrate, though, all kinds of defective and dangerous products flood the marketplace every year. From furniture to food, no industry is immune to producing items that have the potential to hurt those who use them.
If you or someone you love sustained serious injuries after using an item that shouldn’t have been on the shelves in the first place, your family may have grounds for a product liability claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation from the item’s designer, manufacturer, marketer, distributor, retailer, or another party.
Unfortunately, no matter how strong your case seems, there’s no way to guarantee the opposing party will cooperate and pay a fair settlement. If this happens, filing a lawsuit might be the best option. You will have to act quickly, however, because California has strict filing deadlines for product liability lawsuits, and valuable evidence could be time-sensitive.
In California, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years. That means most consumers who get hurt while using a defective or dangerous product have 24 months to bring a suit. If their injuries were not immediately apparent, though, they generally have one year from the date on which their condition was discovered—or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence—to file suit.
Likewise, if a relative died from injuries sustained while using a defective product, certain members of your family may have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In California, the following parties are entitled to take legal action following a wrongful death:
- The deceased’s spouse or domestic partner;
- The deceased’s children or grandchildren;
- Minors who depended on the deceased for at least 50 percent of their financial support; and
- Other eligible heirs under the laws of intestate succession.
Are There Any Exceptions to California’s Statutes of Limitations?
Two years may seem like a considerable amount of time, but that doesn’t mean you should postpone your claim. In fact, if a defective or dangerous item caused you harm, it’s wise to consult a product liability lawyer as soon as possible.
There are a number of exceptions to the statutes of limitations, and if one of them applies to your case, you could have considerably less time to pursue the compensation you deserve. For example, if it turns out that a government entity is responsible for the damages, you may have as little as six months to commence the proceedings. By consulting an attorney right away, you can confirm all critical deadlines, thereby ensuring you don’t lose the opportunity to seek compensation for the losses you incur.
Enlisting help from a seasoned lawyer as soon as your condition stabilizes will also allow your legal team to gather time-sensitive evidence before it’s altered or destroyed. For example, if others were present when you were using the item and they witnessed the subsequent accident, their deposition may become less reliable as time passes. Likewise, if the incident was captured by surveillance cameras, the footage in question might be overwritten in a matter of weeks or even days.
Are There Any Scenarios That Might Extend the Filing Deadline for My Product Liability Suit?
Under some circumstances, the statute of limitations can be tolled or even waived entirely. If your child was hurt while playing with a defective toy, for example, you would likely have until his or her 20th birthday to take legal action. For personal injury suits involving minors, the clock does not start running until the victim’s 18th birthday.
Injured parties who were not mentally competent when they got hurt may also be entitled to an extended filing deadline. For example, if your elderly mother has dementia and was hurt while using a faulty walker but she didn’t tell anyone, your family might have more than two years to file a lawsuit on her behalf.
Bankruptcy filings can also affect the lawsuit filing deadline. If the defendant has enacted an automatic stay by filing a bankruptcy petition, your tort case cannot proceed until their bankruptcy case is resolved.
What Happens If I Attempt to Sue a Manufacturer After the Filing Deadline Has Passed?
Life can be incredibly chaotic when recovering from serious injuries. As such, two years can pass in the blink of an eye.
If you were hurt while using a defective product more than 24 months ago, it’s still advisable to consult an attorney. After all, there’s a chance an exception applies to your case. Although it’s okay to hope for the best, however, you should be prepared for the worst.
If you file suit after the applicable statute of limitations has passed, the judge will likely dismiss your case, which means you will lose the opportunity to seek damages from the defendant. Without the threat of trial, the liable party won’t be inclined to negotiate for a settlement, either. In other words, you may not have any recourse for holding the at-fault party financially accountable for your losses if you wait too long to file suit.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Product Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you or someone you love was seriously hurt by a defective product, let the Law Office of Michael D. Waks take the case. We are dedicated to getting our clients the results they deserve, and we won’t charge any attorneys’ fees unless we win.
Michael D. Waks is a strategic Long Beach product liability lawyer who has been representing the injured and their families for more than 30 years. For a free consultation, send us an email or dial (562) 206-1939. If you are unable to come to us for the case review, a member of our team will come to you.
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