Product Liability Lawsuit Timeline

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on April 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Product liability law exists to protect people who are hurt by defective products. It allows them to recover for injury by seeking damages from the product manufacturer or other parties in the chain of distribution.

More than just the manufacturer is responsible for the safety of a product and sometimes a seller can be held liable for putting a defective product in a customer's hands. But of course there are also important time limits and other considerations that restrict a case. Let's take a look at initial issues impacting the timeline of a product liability lawsuit.

3 Major Considerations

  1. Statute of Limitations: The first thing you absolutely must know about your product liability lawsuit is the statute of limitations in your state. Each state has its own statutes that outline the amount of time provided to make a claim. For example, in Alabama an action must be brought within two years from the time when injury was or should have been discovered while in Wyoming it must be brought within four years of when the injury occurred.
  2. Filing the Complaint: When your attorney files a complaint in court and serves it on the opposition, the ball gets rolling. Depending on the details of the state statute involved, a defendant will have a limited amount of time after a complaint has been filed to answer, often about 30 days. But keep in mind that parties can and do agree to extensions for filing documents as a professional courtesy, and a court will generally not disturb these decisions if all are in agreement.
  3. Discovery: Each state has rules about what must be turned over in discovery, what parties may seek and request from each other and in what forms, whether in written interrogatories or depositions with oral testimony or otherwise. During discovery, lawyers learn the details surrounding the claim and start to build their case, offensive and defensive. How long this takes is dictated by the applicable law and court rules, as well as the case itself, attorney cooperation and more.

Impossible to Predict

It is impossible to predict how long a product liability case will take because a lot depends on case details, the parties, and how complex the matter is. There may be much motion practice or legal arguments made before trial. Sometimes attorneys on either side of a case can agree to many extensions of discovery and even delays of the trial date if research is still required or a negotiated settlement seems possible. There are numerous factors that go into the timing of any case and its resolutions.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you were injured by a defective product, talk to a lawyer today. Don't delay. Find out time limits in your state and get help with your case. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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