You only have two years after the right of action accrues to file a lawsuit for injuries from a defective or dangerous product in Georgia. Bear in mind that it can take months to investigate a products liability claim, discover all the potential defendants, prepare the initial pleadings, and file a lawsuit, so you should not wait until the last minute to talk to a lawyer.
Legal Jargon Explained
The term “right of action accrues” means the time at which you first had a legal right to sue someone for your injury. This time is usually the date of the injury. The term “statute of limitations” refers to the law that governs how long you have to sue someone before you lose the right ever to file a lawsuit against them.
Protection for Older Products
If an older product causes injury, the injured person might not be able to sue the manufacturer, dealer, or retailer of the product. Under Georgia law, those parties have no liability if it has been more than ten years since someone first sold the item that caused the damage.
The reasoning is that no product lasts or works forever, so the manufacturer or seller of a product should only have liability exposure for a maximum of ten years. Even if a person was injured just a month ago, he could not file a lawsuit if someone first sold the product more than ten years ago.
As with many things in the law, however, there are a couple of exceptions to this ten-year rule. They include:
- Suing the manufacturer for negligence in making a product that caused a birth defect or a disease; or
- Suing for conduct that shows the defendant acted intentionally, recklessly, or with disregard for how the actions would affect the lives or property of others.
Exceptions to the Right to Sue
There are two main exceptions to the right to sue a manufacturer or seller if a person suffers injury from a product. They are:
- Put to a use not intended. If a person sustains an injury while using a product in a way the manufacturer did not intend, the person cannot sue for products liability.
- Modified product. The item must be in substantially the same condition as when the first buyer purchased it for the maker or seller to have liability. Once a purchaser or user modifies the product, the maker and seller are off the hook.
Parties You Can Sue for an Injury from a Defective or Dangerous Product
Under Georgia law, you do not have to have privity of contract to sue someone for a defective product. That means that you can be the second or third (or later) owner of an item and still sue the manufacturer or seller if the product turns out to have problems.
Originally, the law of products liability required that the person bringing the lawsuit to have a direct contractual relationship (privity of contract) with the party he wanted to sue. Under this rule, subsequent purchasers had no legal protections. Georgia changed the law on this subject to protect subsequent users of products.
Loss of Consortium Claims Have a Longer Statute of Limitations
When a lawsuit involves a loss of consortium claim, the deadline to sue can be four years. Loss of consortium claims seek compensation for the damage the injury does to one’s close relationships.
Children and People Lacking the Capacity to Sue Might Have a Longer Deadline
Under some situations, minor children and people who lack the legal capacity to sue (for example, due to mental illness) can get a little more time to file lawsuits in Georgia. The law on this issue is complex and fact-driven.
Getting Legal Help for a Product Liability Case in Georgia
Call us for a free consultation about your case. We will help calculate the statute of limitations for your product liability case.
Do not delay, because you could lose your legal right to compensation if you wait too long to take action. Call us today at 404-474-0804.