California Products Liability Statute of Limitations Overview

products liability statute of limitations california

Every day, product liability rules protect us as consumers. The function of these rules is to ensure that manufacturers of consumer products only sell goods that are safe to use or consume as intended.

The intended use of all products is not the same, so different product liability laws apply to different products. For example, the product liability standard that applies to packaged food is not the same as the one that applies to televisions.

Regardless of the product, however, California’s product liability statute of limitations governs the amount of time you have to file a legal claim after a product injures you.

How Product Liability Rules Protect Consumers

No matter the good, if a defect injures a consumer when they use that good as intended by the manufacturer, product liability rules typically hold the manufacturer liable for damages that the defective good causes. If you suffer damage due to a product defect, chances are you are considering legal action to recover damages. After all, why should you bear liability for damage you suffer that is not your fault? 

When you plan on taking legal action to recover damages, you always want to keep the relevant statute of limitations in mind. Failing to account for a statute of limitations can doom a legal claim from the start. When considering legal action for product liability, then, you might consider the question, What is the products liability statute of limitations in California? Knowing the answer is crucial to the success of your legal claim.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time interested parties have, after a given event, to initiate legal proceedings related to the event. Once the statute of limitations expires in a product liability case, you can no longer file a legal claim.

Statutes of limitations play an important role in our legal system. They help to ensure that the basis of all legal decisions is clear evidence. Evidence deteriorates over time and becomes less clear. Thus, the more time passes, the harder it is to assess the facts and evidence as they existed at the time of the event in question. A statute of limitations limits the amount of time that evidence has to deteriorate before someone initiates legal proceedings over a given event. 

What Is California’s Product Liability Statute of Limitations?

The length of the products liability statute of limitations in California depends on the type of damage a consumer suffers due to the product’s defect. If a consumer product injures someone in California, the statute of limitations set by California’s Code of Civil Procedure is two years from the date of the injury. If someone does not discover an injury right away, the statute of limitations is one year from the date that they discover the injury (but no less than two years from the date of the injury).

A separate statute of limitations applies when a defective product causes property damage. In that case, the statute of limitations is three years from the date that the property damage occurs. If both property and personal injury damage occur in the same event, it is important to be aware that both statutes of limitations apply. If you suffer both types of damages and wait two-and-a-half years to initiate legal proceedings, courts will reject your personal injury claim.

Are There Exceptions or Extensions to the Product Liability Statute of Limitations in California?

California law does have certain extensions or exceptions to its statutes of limitations. With respect to product liability, the number of exceptions is very limited. The main exception to California’s product liability statute of limitations is known as the discovery rule. According to the discovery rule, which we noted earlier, a person who suffers a personal injury due to a defective product and is not aware of the damage right away has one year from the date that they discover the injury to initiate legal proceedings. This sort of thing may happen, for example, with respect to prescription drugs. The damage that defective or dangerous prescription drugs can cause typically does not manifest itself immediately. Sometimes it can take years to discover an injury caused by a prescription drug. Still, a person who suffers personal injury through no fault of their own should not be liable for that damage. With this in mind, the discovery rule exception to the personal injury statute of limitations is essential in upholding the spirit of product liability rules.

Do Not Let the Product Liability Statute of Limitations in California Pass You Up

The best thing you can do to ensure that California’s product liability statute of limitations does not jeopardize your legal claim is to retain the services of a product liability attorney as soon as possible after an accident. 

Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid liability, parties will try to make negotiations take as long as possible. You may inform a manufacturer that their product injured you, and they may respond by asking for proof. Such a situation can turn into a back and forth between you and the manufacturer where every time you submit evidence, they string you along, asking for more or different proof. In another situation, they may accept your evidence but repeatedly give you lowball settlement offers. The idea behind this tactic is to take up as much of a statute of limitations as possible. They hope that it will be too late to initiate legal proceedings by the time you hire a lawyer. 

If you immediately hire an attorney, however, you can avoid this. Knowing that you have an attorney on your side and can initiate legal proceedings whenever you need to, the opposing party will take your claim seriously and try to resolve it as soon as they can. 

Do You Need to File a California Products Liability Claim?

If you are considering filing a product liability claim in California, don’t let the statute of limitations jeopardize your case. Instead, hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to help right the wrong that you suffered. The personal injury attorneys at Saeedian Law Group have the experience necessary to advocate for your claim from start to finish. Whether your claim quickly settles out of court or the offending manufacturer vows to take the claim to trial, our team can help. We have helped our clients recover millions in damages throughout the years and are eager to make sure that you recover the damages you deserve. Check out our case results and testimonials page for more information about our wealth of prior experience, then reach out for a free consultation. 

Your injury is not your fault, so why should you have to pay for it? Hold the offending party accountable. Contact Saeedian Law Group today!