If you were injured by a defective product, you may be able to recover damages (financial compensation) from the product manufacturer or seller. Depending on the facts of your specific product injury case, there are different kinds of damages you may be able to recover.
Georgia law includes strict limitations on when a product liability lawsuit can be filed. To ensure you receive the damages you are due for your injuries, it is critically important that you file your claim within the allotted time.
How long do I have to file a Georgia product injury claim?
In general, an injured person has two years after the date of the injury to file a defective product personal injury lawsuit under Georgia law. If a claim is filed after this statute of limitations expires, it will almost certainly be dismissed.
There are some narrow exceptions to Georgia's statute of limitations. For example, if the injured person is legally incompetent due to mental illness or mental disability, the statute of limitations may be extended until he or she recovers from the disability.
Georgia's statute of repose may also limit how long an injured person has to file a lawsuit. In general, product liability lawsuits can only be filed within a ten-year period after the product was first sold.
There are some exceptions to the ten-year statute of repose time limit, including:
- Negligence claims against a manufacturer for products that cause a disease or birth defect.
- Injuries that result from a product manufacturer's "willful, reckless, or wanton disregard for life or property."
- A product manufacturer's failure to warn of the potential for injury or harm.
Despite the existence of exceptions that may extend the time limit, it is better to file a product liability claim as soon as possible after an injury occurs. The more time that elapses after your injury, the harder it becomes to gather evidence in your product liability case. You also don't want to risk missing an important filing deadline.
What kind of damages may be awarded in a defective product lawsuit?
If an injured person successfully proves that a manufacturer or seller's defective product caused his or her injuries, Georgia law allows for several different categories of damages to be awarded.
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate injured parties for their losses. There are two different categories of compensatory damages that may be awarded in Georgia cases:
- Special damages are intended to compensate injured persons for losses that can be assigned a specific dollar value. This includes things like medical expenses or lost wages due to missed work. Special damages can include both past expenses and future expenses. For example, a person who was permanently disabled due to a defective product injury may be able to recover damages for many years of future lost wages.
- General damages are awarded for less tangible losses that cannot easily be assigned a specific dollar value. This includes things like pain and suffering, fear, anxiety, mental anguish, reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life. When calculating general damages, judges and juries will generally consider things like the severity of the injury, the duration of the injured person's suffering, and whether the injury interferes with the ability to work, to engage in normal day-to-day activities and to enjoy life.
In contrast to compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate the injured person for any losses. These are a special category of damages awarded in particularly extreme cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the responsible party or to deter the responsible party and others from committing similar acts in the future.
Under Georgia law, punitive damages may only be awarded if:
[I]t is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant's actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.
Are there limits to damages in Georgia product liability lawsuits?
There is not a cap on the amount of compensatory damages that can be awarded in Georgia product liability cases. While there is not generally a cap on special damages, injured parties generally will only be able to recover the specific amount of money they lost or will lose in the future due to their injuries. Because it is very difficult to assign a dollar amount to things like pain and suffering, there is also no cap on general damages that may be awarded in Georgia defective product cases.
However, Georgia's comparative negligence laws may limit or reduce the amount of compensation available to an injured person. Under Georgia law, if the injured person's negligence contributed to his or her injuries, the amount of damages awarded may be reduced or eliminated.
For example, if a man who was injured in a defective tire accident was speeding at the time of the accident, he might be considered partially responsible for his injuries. The damages awarded in his case would be reduced in proportion to his fault. If the court decided to award $1 million in damages, and the injured man was 40% responsible for his own injuries, his award would be reduced proportionately. He would receive $600,000.
Unlike other types of personal injury cases, such as premises liability cases, Georgia law does not cap punitive damages that may be awarded in product liability cases. Because punitive damages are a punishment or a deterrent, rather than compensation for an injured party, 75% of punitive damages in Georgia product liability cases are given to the State of Georgia. Twenty-five percent is given to the injured person.
Don't lose out on the compensation you deserve for your defective product injuries, contact a Products Liability and Personal Injury Lawyer in Georgia.
To ensure you don't miss an important filing deadline, you should contact an experienced defective products attorney as soon as possible after your injury. They will begin working to ensure you receive all the damages you are entitled to in your injury case. If you or a loved one were injured by a defective product, Contact the Hadden Law firm as soon as possible.