Statute of Limitations for Product Liability
In Georgia, product liability suits brought under the theories of strict liability or negligence must be filed within two years after the cause of action occurred. O.C.G.A. §§ 9-3-33, 51-1-11. A "cause of action" does not occur until the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered that they were injured by the defendant's conduct. Abend v. Klaudt, 243 Ga. App. 271, 531 S.E.2d 722 (Ct. App. 2000); Piedmont Pharmacy, Inc. v. Patmore, 144 Ga. App. 160, 240 S.E.2d 880 (Ct. App. 1977). If you do not file a lawsuit within this time, you cannot sue.
If the lawsuit is based on contract law, as in the case of a breach of warranty, you must file it within six years after the cause of action occurred. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-24. A "cause of action" here occurs when the contract is broken, not when the actual damage is done or discovered. Baker v. Brennan/Goddard Co., 2002 Ga. Lexis 58 (Ga. Feb. 4 2002). If you do not file a lawsuit within this time, you cannot sue.
In addition to typical statutes of limitations, state legislatures have also enacted special statutes of limitations for certain types of actions to put outside time limits on certain types of lawsuits. These are referred to as statutes of repose. Statutes of repose typically place an outside limit (usually 10, 15 or 20 years) on certain types of lawsuits, regardless of when the injury is discovered. In Georgia, injured victims cannot file a product liability suit if the product was sold 10 years before the injury. O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11. The legislative purpose behind this law is to prevent increased insurance rates and promote new product development by manufacturers. Hatcher v. Allied Products Corp., 256 Ga. 100, 344 S.E.2d 418 (1996).
In product liability cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, document the chain of custody of the product in question, and to enable engineers or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate the product and your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured by a product of any kind, call Law Office of Donald P. Edwards now at 404-526-8866 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.