Each year, a significant number of people in Ohio are injured by defective products. In some cases, these injuries can leave victims with ongoing medical problems that could affect them for the rest of their lives, often resulting in ongoing medical expenses and an inability to earn an income.
Even in less serious cases, victims experience significant pain and suffering, incur substantial medical bills, and are out of work for weeks or even months.
Fortunately, Ohio product liability law allows people who are hurt by defective products to recover compensation for these and many other losses they experience as a result of their injury. In order to recover, however, they must file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations, which is the law that limits the amount of time in which a person has to file a claim.
If you fail to file your claim within the applicable statute of limitations, your claim will almost certainly be dismissed by the court. For this reason, it is important to make sure you are aware of the statute of limitations in your state, and it is generally best to speak to an attorney as soon as you recognize that you may have a claim to pursue.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Ohio’s statute of limitations on product liability claims (and personal injury claims) requires that a lawsuit be filed within two years after the “cause of action accrues.” Generally speaking, this means two years after the date of injury occurs — so, if you are injured in an accident caused by a defectively manufactured car or truck or by a bicycle that was improperly designed, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim. The nearly 100,000 Toyota Prius owners who recently have been warned about faulty parking brakes may fall into this category if an accident due to the problem occurs before they’re able to get a recall repair.
But what about cases where there is no accident or incident that can be identified as the moment that an injury occurred? While this initially may seem like an uncommon scenario, it happens much more often than one would initially imagine.
Generally, these kinds of cases involve the use of or exposure to a defective product that, over a period of time, causes some sort of bodily injury. For example, there are currently active cases that allege that the use of talcum power is linked to a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer in women, while diabetes-regulating drug Invokana has been linked to kidney failure and cardiac complications. Similarly, there has been and continues to be litigation regarding exposure to asbestos causing mesothelioma in a variety of settings.
In these kinds of cases, there is no single date that can be used as the date of injury.
Determining the Start Date for the Ohio Product Liability Statute of Limitations
When an injury from a defective product does not occur from a single or specific incident, Ohio law deals with this situation by using the date upon which the “plaintiff is informed by competent medical authority that the plaintiff has an injury that is related to the exposure, or upon the date on which by the exercise of reasonable diligence the plaintiff should have known that the plaintiff has an injury that is related to the exposure, whichever date occurs first.”
In other words, the statute of limitations will begin to run on the date that the plaintiff received a diagnosis of a medical condition caused by a defective product he or she should have known that he or she had sustained an injury.
State law identifies five situations where this date applies:
- Exposure to hazardous or toxic chemicals, drugs prescribed by a doctor, or approved medical devices;
- Exposure to chromium;
- Exposure to chemical defoliants, herbicide, or other causative agents, including Agent Orange;
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol or other non-steroidal synthetic estrogens, including exposure before birth;
- Exposure to asbestos.
Because of these legal provisions, it is important for anyone who suspects that they have sustained an injury due to exposure to hazardous or toxic substances to take steps to have their condition diagnosed as soon as they recognize that there may be an issue. Ignoring a sore back that comes and goes for a couple of years or a lingering cough could result in an inability to recover significant compensation for your injuries.
Seeking Help with a Products Liability Claim
In most cases, people injured by defective products have two years to file a claim. It is important, however, to remember that if a court determines that you should have known of an injury earlier or had obtained a diagnosis regarding a medical condition related to a defective product, the statute of limitations will begin to run.
No matter how a product liability injury occurs, it is crucial to contact a product liability attorney like Plevin & Gallucci as early as possible so there is adequate time to investigate the claim and determine all potentially responsible companies before the two-year statute of limitations expires.
Our recent product liability settlements include a $3.2 million result for our client, a woman who lost both hands in a punch-press after the company failed to comply with safety regulations. Additionally, Plevin & Gallucci workers’ compensation and product liability attorneys fought for a client who lost his life to cancer after years of working around dangerous airborne chemicals. A substantial seven-figure settlement helped establish widow benefits for his wife.
To schedule a no-obligation consultation with an Ohio product liability lawyer at Plevin & Gallucci, contact our office today.