In product liability cases, there are several presumptions possibly taken into consideration. Presumptions are rules added to provide juries some assistance in shaping the truth. The presumptions are said to be presumed, yet “rebuttable”; meaning believed to be true unless challenged using evidence to the contrary. The presumptions are considered among the overall, greater scope of evidence. In initiating such cases, it is critical to determine if the claim could be barred due to time considerations, such as statutes of limitations and repose.
Presumption 13-21-403 (3)
If ten years has elapsed since the product was originally sold for usage or consumption, it is assumed that the product is not defective and the manufacturer or seller is not considered negligent. Further, the directions or forewarnings accompanying the product are assumed to be adequate.
Why do Time-Barred Statues Exist?
The origins of time-based legal limitations can be traced back deeply in history. In Classical Greek culture, they were said to have been instituted to limit “sycophants”, interpreted as those exhibiting a pattern of seeking to gain by creating accusations. Old English law described long-dormant claims as being potentially cruel, and not representative of justice. More commonly accepted contemporary reasoning asserts that limitations increase efficiency and protect courts from being burdened with hearing “stale” claims. Older claims often cite evidence that may no longer be accessible. In Ohio v. Peterson, Lowry, Barber & Ross, the statutes were said to have been established to avoid cases “hampered by stale evidence and absent witnesses”. Older claims tend to rely largely on circumstantial evidence, and are more susceptible to fraud.
Differentiating Statutes of Limitations from Repose
Colorado's statute of limitations in actions of product liability is two years from the date an injury or fatality occurs. Statutes of repose may bars claims when a statute of limitations doesn't. For example, if a product was sold in 2005 and a consumer injury occurs in 2016 (11 years later), the ten-year statute of repose would bar a claim, although within the statute of limitations.
Applicability in CO Case Law
In CO Appeals case Downing v. Overhead Door Corp., the statute of repose became a point of contention. The Plaintiff's child was injured by an automatic garage door, while it closed after being inadvertently activated in 1978. The product's serial number indicated it was manufactured in 1968; however, records specifying the date of sale and installation no longer existed, thus the presumption was not admissible.
Manufacturers or sellers often become exclusively focused on having their product quickly launched into the marketplace to begin generating profits. Some organizations may take “shortcuts” in identifying potential consumer product safety concerns. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal does not take shortcuts when it comes to fighting for the needed compensation of their clients. Those with a potential product liability case in Colorado should contact the office for a free consultation.