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Statute of Repose for Automotive Defect Claims

Sometimes defective automotive parts and/or design flaws cause or contribute to car accidents. If a faulty or malfunctioning vehicle component is to blame for your accident and injuries, it is important to be aware of the statute of repose for product defect claims. This law may affect how and when you can seek compensation from manufacturers, distributors, and other at-fault parties. Below is helpful information about Georgia’s statute of repose for automotive defect claims.

Starting the Clock for Auto Defect Claims

Georgia’s statute of repose states that no injury claim can be brought “after 10 years from the date of the first sale for use or consumption” of the defective product that caused the injury. For many years, courts interpreted the statute to require that product claims be brought against manufacturers within 10 years after the product was purchased by the first consumer or user. But in 2006, that changed.

In a case against Ford Motor Company, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that an injury claim involving damage caused by a vehicle’s component part must be filed within 10 years after the part was incorporated into the final design of the vehicle by the manufacturer.

Because this ruling broke from the precedent established in earlier cases, the Georgia Supreme Court was asked to resolve the issue in 2011. The Supreme Court held that the statute of repose begins running when a finished product is sold as new to the intended consumer who is to receive the product.

For people injured as the result of an automotive defect, this means you have 10 years from the date the vehicle was first purchased—not when the component part was first used by the manufacturer—to bring a claim for compensation.  The statute of repose does not apply, however, for claims based on a manufacturer's failure to warn of any dangers from use of the product once the manufacturer has knowledge of the dangers.   

It is important to remember that the statute of repose differs from Georgia's statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit.  The statute of limitations governs the time by which an injured party must file a lawsuit in court based on the date of the injury.  The statute of repose, however, imposes a strict bar date for a lawsuit based on the date the product, or vehicle, was first purchased.   The two time limits can be very different.  

The Statute of Repose Defense

It is extremely important that you file an injury claim before the statute of repose runs out because by failing to do so, your claim will be barred in its entirety. Ten years is a long time, but if you miss the deadline you are out of luck no matter when you discovered, or should have discovered, your injury. Manufacturers will be quick to raise a statute of repose defense if it is available to them.

Contact KWFDM if You Have Been Injured by an Auto Defect

If you have been injured as the result of an automotive defect, please contact the legal team at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC in Atlanta. We will be sure to handle your claims in a timely manner, and work hard to maximize your options for recovery. Our experienced product liability team can be reached at (404) 461-0101.

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I was in a head-on collision last year that put me in a wheelchair with a fractured femur. I needed an attorney and my cousin recommended this firm because he had used Briant Mildenhall for his accident. I was glad I called Briant because he always did what he said he would do and kept me informed. We settled with the insurance company and I'm happy with the result. If someone I know needs an attorney, I will tell them to call Briant because he will get the job done. Michael G.
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