How Statutes of Repose Can Affect Your Product Liability Claim
Many people, even outside of the legal field, understand the concept of a statute of limitations. The rule basically puts a time limit on how soon a lawsuit needs to be filed after an event (such as an injury) occurs.
But there’s another concept, called a statute of repose, that far fewer people know about — even though it can have a major impact on the outcome of certain types of legal cases, including product liability lawsuits.
In this article, we’ll break down how both kinds of statutes work and the differences between them so you can understand how they might affect your product liability claim.
The Difference Between Statutes of Limitations and Statutes of Repose
The statute of limitations and the statute of repose in a civil case are both laws that specify how much time you get to file a lawsuit against a defendant regarding a specific claim. These laws exist separately from and independently of each other, but if either of them expires in your case, you’ll lose any chance of receiving compensation from your claim.
Here’s how each type of statute works, in brief:
- The statute of limitations determines how long you have from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations for product liability claims is 2 years.
- The statute of repose specifies a window from the date a product is first sold during which people can bring product liability claims against the manufacturer or distributor. In Texas, the statute of repose for product liability claims is 15 years from the date the product was first sold.
The difference between the two is that the statute of limitations is unique to your case and is based on when your injury occurred, while the date that the statute of repose expires is generally the same for all product liability claims related to a given product. Both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose for product liability claims vary from state to state.
An Example of Statutes of Repose in Action
As an example of how these two statutes work in practice, let’s say a victim in Texas fell and suffered injuries on August 8, 2017 when a ladder they were using collapsed due to a design defect. The ladder in question was first sold on April 15, 2003.
In this case, the statute of limitations for the victim’s case would expire on August 8, 2019 (two years from the date of their injury), but the statute of repose would expire earlier, on April 15, 2018 (15 years from the date the product hit the market). This means that the last possible day the victim could a file a lawsuit against the ladder’s manufacturer or distributor is April 15, 2018.
In general, if the product that injured you is a relatively new product that recently came to market, the statute of limitations will be the main concern in your case. However, if you suffer injuries from a defect in an older product that has been sold for many years, the statute of repose may be the factor that determines how long you have until you lose the opportunity to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries.
The Most Important Thing to Remember: Act Quickly If You’ve Been Injured
Statutes of limitations and repose aren’t always as clear-cut as the examples above. In some cases, the statute of repose can extend beyond 15 years from the date of the product’s first sale. For example, if the defendant created a warranty on the product stating that its useful life is longer than 15 years, or if the signs and symptoms of the victim’s injury don’t appear until the 15-year window expires (which may happen in cases of exposure to toxic or cancer-causing substances, for example), then the statute of repose might extend beyond the normal span of time.
However, the most important takeaway regarding statutes of repose is that they add one more factor that limits the time in which you’re allowed to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for injuries you’ve suffered due to a defective product. To get accurate information about how the statute of limitations and the statute of repose apply to your unique case, you need to contact an experienced product liability lawyer — and the sooner you do it, the better.
Contact Hossley & Embry If You’ve Been Injured by a Defective Product
Our team of attorneys at Hossley & Embry has years of experience handling product liability and personal injury cases, and we have the resources available — including charter aircraft — to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim. To set up your free consultation with an experienced product liability lawyer today, please call (866) 522-9265 or fill out our convenient online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.