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Products Liability

Defenses in Products Liability Lawsuits

Products liability is an area of law that covers personal injuries and property damage caused by defective products. A product might be defective because it was improperly designed or manufactured. If a defective product causes personal injuries or property damage, anyone involved in the manufacture or distribution of the product might be liable for injuries caused by the defect. In many states, you can sue the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the distributor, or the store where the defective product was purchased. There are several defenses that can be raised in a products liability lawsuit. This article covers the following defenses: statutes of limitations, contributory negligence and comparative negligence, product misuse and assumption of risk.

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Statutes of Limitations and Statutes of Repose

Products liability law deals with personal injuries and property damages caused by defective products. Statutes of limitations and statutes of repose set time limits for filing lawsuits. A lawsuit that is filed after the time period set out in the statute of limitations or the statute of repose is barred and will be dismissed by the court. It is important to check with an attorney to determine the time limit for filing a lawsuit if you have been injured or a defective product has damaged your property.

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Food Contamination

Food-borne illness is fairly common in the United States. The main cause of food-borne illness is the improper handling of food, which allows it to become contaminated by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses. This can happen when the food is being manufactured or packaged. It can also occur at a restaurant where the food is being prepared and served. Under products liability law, a consumer who is injured as a result of eating contaminated food can take legal action to recover money damages for any injuries.

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The FDA Modernization Act of 1997

In 1997, Congress passed legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act relating to the regulation of food, drugs, devices, and biological products. The legislation, called the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, reduces the approval time for drugs and medical devices while seeking to maintain patient safety. In addition, the Modernization Act provides the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with additional resources to devote to expediting the drug and medical device review process.

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Statute of Limitations in Products Liability Litigation

Limitation on Right to Sue

When a person suffers personal injury or property damage due to a product that is defectively designed or manufactured, the injured person has a set time period (called the statute of limitations) in which to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations restrict the time period a person has to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state. They also vary depending upon the type of lawsuit filed. For example, Ohio law allows a person six years to sue for breach of an oral contract and 15 years to sue for breach of a written contract. The Ohio wrongful death law requires a lawsuit to be filed within two years after the death occurs.

If a claim expires due to the statute of limitations, the defendant has to raise the statute of limitations as a defense in the lawsuit. If the defense is raised in court, the lawsuit will be barred. If the defendant fails to raise the defense, it is waived and the lawsuit can proceed.

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