Hurt by Dangerous or Defective Products? Keep Track of the Time
Thousands of people in Wisconsin and across the country are harmed daily by dangerous drugs and defective products. Product liability lawsuits are one way in which injured individuals sue the makers of defective products to recover medical expenses and other injury-related costs.
Time is Important in Product Liability Lawsuits
For those pursuing a product liability claim, certain time limits exist in which a claim must be filed. Almost all types of injury claims in Wisconsin law have a time limit attached to them. These time limits are known as statutes of limitations and statutes of repose.
A statute of limitations refers to the maximum amount of time you have to file a particular lawsuit. For product liability claims in Wisconsin, the statute of limitations is three years (Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 893.54(1)). The clock starts ticking on the day your claim arises or accrues, and once the three-year time limit is up, the statute of limitations has run. Thus, you cannot file a lawsuit. In a product liability context, this most often means the day you become injured by a defective product or a diagnosed with a condition caused by a dangerous drug. As such, the clock does not start ticking on the day you buy the product.
A statute of repose is another type of time limit that may apply to products liability claims. It creates a set period of time in which you have to file the lawsuit entirely, even if you are not hurt or have yet to realize something is wrong. This is a troublesome time limit, as many injuries caused by drugs or products take years to manifest themselves.
When Governor Walker signed the newly changed Wisconsin products liability statute (Wisc. Stat. § 895.047)—called the Omnibus Tort Reform Act, 2011 Wisconsin Act 2—it included a statute of repose requirement in product liability cases. Now, if you are filing a product liability lawsuit in Wisconsin, it must be done with 15 years (Wisc. Stat. § 895.047(5)).
The new law bars all claims involving products manufactured more than 15 years before the injury. However, the law does recognize how damaging this time limit can be on Wisconsinites suffering from diseases or injuries that may not appear right away. The new provision does provide an exception for the following:
- When the injuries are caused by latent diseases; and
- When the manufacturer promised the product would last more than 15 years.
Because it can be confusing to know exactly when time will start tolling on your claim, it is extremely important to contact an experienced product liability lawyer the moment you realize something is wrong or you have suffered harm. An attorney can help walk you through the process and determine how long you have until you must file your claim.
Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Products Liability Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dangerous or defective product, drug, or medical device, contact one of our Green Bay products liability lawyers or Appleton products liability lawyers at Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. today. We have offices located in Green Bay, Appleton New London and Oshkosh, and we are happy to provide you with an initial consultation to discuss your case.