Consumers in Pennsylvania generally expect that when they purchase a product, it will do what it is meant to do effectively and safely. When an item doesn’t do its job, or creates a situation in which a person using it can be hurt by it, the product might be considered defective. Under Pennsylvania law, a defect that causes an injury can create a cause of action against the manufacturer or seller of the product in question.
A defective product is one that is unreasonably dangerous when it is used properly. However, just because a person suffers injury from a defective product doesn’t mean they can sue at any time.
When it comes to civil lawsuits, there is a basic expectation that people will take action within a certain time period of the event that gives rise to the suit. The idea behind this is that justice is served best when events are relatively fresh in the minds of any potential witnesses, and that evidence is still available and has less opportunity to be lost or destroyed.
These time limits are usually called ‘statutes of limitation.’ In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations to bring an action based upon a defective product is two years from the time the injury is incurred. People who wait longer than this run the risk of having their suit dismissed. There is an exception, however, as Pennsylvania adheres to the ‘discovery rule,’ which holds that the statute of limitations clock is not started in cases in which the cause of an injury is not immediately reasonably discoverable. Thus, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the person discovered that it was caused by a defective product, or the point at which that discovery should have been made.
Products liability law can be quite complicated, as there may be differences in handling cases created by design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects. Further, some cases may involve strict liability, and others may give rise to affirmative defenses by the defendant. Those who have been injured by a defective product may wish to consider consulting an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer.