A product liability lawsuit serves to hold a manufacturing or distributing company legally responsible for damages caused by defective or dangerous products. All companies owe high standards of care to consumers. They must make sure their products are safe for use as intended. Failure to ensure the safety of an item through careful design, testing, and adequate warning labels is negligence that could result in consumer injuries and deaths. Product liability laws differ state by state. Here’s what to know about the laws in Georgia.
Georgia Product Liability Statute
Georgia Code Section 51-1-11 explains the state’s product liability laws in detail. The code states injured parties don’t need proof they purchased the product (known as privity) to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. You can file a claim on behalf of a loved one or for injuries sustained during use of a friend’s borrowed product even if you weren’t the one who made the purchase. For the courts to rule in the plaintiff’s favor in a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff will have to prove four main elements:
- The product had a defect at the time of the injury.
- The defective condition caused the injury or a loved one’s death
- The item was in basically the same condition as it was when it left the manufacturer.
- The plaintiff used the item as the manufacturer intended.
In most cases, the plaintiff will not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in some way that resulted in the incident. Georgia’s strict product liability laws hold the product manufacturer strictly liable for injuries a defective item causes, regardless of the question of negligence. Today in Georgia, almost anyone injured by a defective product can bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Types of Product Defects
There are three main types of product defects that result in lawsuits in Georgia:
- Design Defect
This is where the product designers make a mistake or error in judgment that results in an unsafe design.
- Manufacturing Mistake
In these cases, the item’s design was sound, but a mistake during production made the item dangerous or defective.
- Warning Defect
This is where the manufacturer fails to include adequate warning labels or instructions to prevent foreseeable harms.
If an item contains one of these three main types of defects, the consumer likely will not have to prove negligence. It is enough to show that the defect exists and that it was the proximate cause of the injuries in question. However, there are product liability claims in Georgia that require the plaintiff to prove the defendant’s fault on the grounds of negligence or breach of warranty. In these cases, it may be necessary for the plaintiff to show that the manufacturer breached a duty in some way that resulted in the unsafe condition and resultant injuries.
Statute of Limitations
Another important Georgia product liability law to know is the statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a claim. In Georgia, injured consumers have two years to file personal injury claims relating to defective products, and four years if the item only caused property damage. If you do not discover your injuries until later, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the date of discovery. The statute of repose is 10 years, meaning there is a 10-year maximum deadline on all product liability claims. One exception exists to the statute of repose: If the manufacturer failed to warn of known or foreseeable risks, there is no statute of repose in Georgia.
Each product liability claim is unique. Find out your specific deadlines, rules for filing, and burden of proof requirements in a conversation with a product liability attorney in Georgia. Contact Kaufman Law with questions about your potential case.