What you Should Know About Pennsylvania Product Liability Laws
The state of Pennsylvania has strict product safety laws in place to protect its citizens from defects in products, or accidents caused by those products, that could place people in harm’s way.
Despite these strict guidelines for manufacturers, some products hit the market still containing major or minor defects that are dangerous. Examples of such defects are nutritional supplements and medicines that cause dangerous side effects and electronics with faulty hardware that run the risk of exploding or catching fire. Then there are products that don’t cause active harm, but they simply don’t function consistently, causing suffering and potential danger for those who count on the products to stay healthy. If a product you have bought on the market has caused you harm or failed to act as it is expected to, Pennsylvania product liability laws will protect you, and with the support of a member of our experienced team of attorneys, you can recover damages for the fault and any injury it caused.
How is liability determined?
There are three main categories under which a product’s defects are categorized. They are defective design, defects in the product’s manufacturing, and the absence of sufficient warnings or instructions. To determine what a defective design is, the Pennsylvania courts consider whether the standard consumer would be in danger of injury or misuse of the product based on its design. The courts also determine whether the standard consumer runs the risk of injury not because of misuse, but during normal use. If this is the case, the product has a defective design, and consumers are entitled to seek damages for injuries and destruction caused while using the product.
What is the statute of limitations for Pennsylvania product liability laws?
As noted above, Pennsylvania’s product liability laws protect consumers from faulty products that have made the market, providing a path toward recovery of damages. According to the laws’ statutes of limitation, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the damage caused by the product, whether that was an injury, damage to property, or even wrongful death. The Discovery Rule applies, as set as a precedent in Fine v. Checcio, meaning that if it is found that the product manufacturer fraudulently concealed information about the risk of the product, the two years within which the lawsuit must be filed will not begin until the time at which the consumer could have had reasonable awareness of those defects of the product. There are a number of cases in which the consumer could become aware that the product was faulty long after its implemented use and, at that time, become aware that the manufacturer or provider concealed its failure to function. One such example is in the case of a medical procedure or implant that was not successful. If the medical provider was aware of this failure and refused to let the patient know, the case of fraudulent concealment would apply, and the statute of limitations would not go into effect until the patient became aware of the fault.
In addition to the clause regarding fraudulent concealment, another exception to the normal two-year statute of limitations exists in Pennsylvania property liability law. The statute of repose exists in the case of real estate; according to this statute, a consumer has a full 12 years to bring a claim seeking damages for faulty work in real estate improvements done. For example, if repairs to a home involve electrical work that is not correctly implemented and later causes electrical shocks or appliance explosion within 12 years, a consumer can file a lawsuit under product liability laws.
A manufacturer must be more than 50 percent at fault, however, in order to be culpable in the eyes of Pennsylvania product liability laws. Because of the state’s comparative fault standards, the amount a consumer can recover is based on the percentage of fault the manufacturer had in causing the injury or defect. If a manufacturer was 100 percent at fault for causing the injury or accident due to their faulty product, they will be 100 percent liable for covering damages. However, if the consumer misused the product, for example, initiating the product’s fault, they could be found to be 20 percent liable for the injury and only recover 80 percent of the damages under product liability laws, for example. If the consumer was over 50 percent liable, they are not eligible to file a claim under Pennsylvania product liability laws.
Contact our Bensalem Product Liability Attorneys Today
At Cohen & Riechelson, our New Jersey attorneys support our clients in Bucks County and Northeast Philadelphia in all matters of injury and accident caused by faulty products.
To schedule a confidential case assessment with our firm today, call our Bensalem offices at (215) 337-4915 today to speak with a member of our legal team in a free and confidential consultation.