Whether you're from northern Delaware or "Slower Lower," most Delawareans are happy they don't have to pay sales tax on all the stuff they buy. And thankfully, if one of the products you purchase causes an injury or property damage, the state has product liability laws that allow you to seek compensation from the manufacturer or seller.
The table below outlines key aspects of the product liability laws in Delaware, followed by more in-depth descriptions of filing deadlines, compensation limits, common defenses, and more.
|Statute of Limitations||2 years (Sec. 8107 and Sec. 8119)|
|Discovery Rule Used||Yes (Morton v. Sky Nails, 884 A.2d 480, 481-83 (Del. 2005))|
|Statute of Repose||6 years (only applicable to deficiencies in improvements to real property) (Sec. 8127)|
|Limits on Damages||Economic loss rule (Danforth v. Acorn Structures, Inc., 608 A.2d 1194 (Del. Super. 1999))|
|Comparative Fault||Modified Comparative Fault (Sec. 8132)|
Usually, Delaware product liability lawsuits must be brought within two years of the injury, death, or property damage caused by the product. But despite this "statute of limitations," the state's discovery rule may give you more time for certain latent injuries. In those cases, the limitations period doesn't begin to run until you know (or should have known) about the injury and that it may have been caused by the defendant's product.
Limits on Damages
In an action alleging negligence, Delaware's modified comparative negligence rule prohibits compensation if you were more than 50 percent at fault for causing the accident. In all other scenarios, your damages will be diminished in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, a $200,000 award will be reduced to $150,000 if you were 25 percent at fault.
Additionally, Delaware's economic loss rule prevents recovery in a product liability case when the only damage that occurred was to the product itself. The courts usually require those cases to be tried under a contracts theory of liability instead.
Theories of Liability
In Delaware, product liability actions are based on negligence or breach of warranty. Unlike most states, Delaware does not allow for product liability claims based on a theory of strict liability, but additional claims are available under the state's Uniform Commercial Code. Actions based on negligence may include claims of design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to provide adequate warnings.
In design defect claims, the danger is inherent in the design itself, while manufacturing defect claims allege that a flaw occurred during the manufacturing process, resulting in a dangerous product. And in failure to warn cases, the plaintiff argues that the manufacturer had a duty to warn users of unreasonably dangerous aspects of its product, but failed to do so.
To deny liability, defendants in a product liability suit might argue that the harm was actually caused by the consumer's reasonably unforeseen misuse of the product. In failure to warn cases, they may contend that they had no duty to provide a warning because the product's risks were obvious and generally known to consumers. Lastly, Delaware also has law called the "sealed container defense" which states that a seller is not liable for a defectively designed or manufactured product if, among other requirements, the seller acquired and sold the product in a sealed container and didn't know about the product's defect.
Get a Free Case Review from a Delaware Attorney
Whether you were maimed by a defective power tool or injured by malfunctioning kitchen appliance, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you suffered. Don't let Delaware's relatively unique laws deter you from holding manufacturers and sellers accountable for their defective products. Start the process with a free case review from an experienced attorney familiar with Delaware's product liability laws.
Contact a qualified attorney.