Illinois Products Liability FAQs by Koester & Bradley


What is products liability?
Products liability is a subarea of personal injury in which an injury is caused by use of a dangerous or defective product.

What do I have to prove in order to be successful in a products liability case?
A victim must prove that the product that caused the injury is defective.

What are product defects?

  • Design defect:  an inherent error or flaw in a product’s design prior to manufacturing that renders the product unreasonably dangerous.
  • Manufacturing defect:  an error or flaw in a product that occurs during the process of manufacture or assembly that renders the product unreasonably dangerous.
  • Marketing defect:  a flaw in the manner a product is marketed, such as inadequate safety warnings, improper labeling or insufficient instructions

What are some types of products liability?

  • Automobiles, other motor vehicles and their components
  • Automobile seat belt systems
  • Machinery and other workplace products
  • Household products and appliances
  • Toys and recreational equipment
  • Toxic chemicals and substances such as mold, asbestos and pesticides
  • Clothing and apparel
  • Firearms
  • Medical devices such as DePuy and Stryker prostheses
  • Pharmaceuticals 


I was injured by a flat iron.  Do I need to have the flat iron in order to file a lawsuit?

Yes.  We recommend that you keep and preserve the product as well as the original packaging, manuals and instruction booklets that came with the product, and purchase receipts if possible.

I was burned by my sister’s flat iron but I do not own the product.  Can I still file a lawsuit?
Yes.  A person who is injured while using the product may bring a lawsuit even if they are not the owner of the product at issue.

Who can be held responsible in a products liability case?
The manufacturer, the retailer and sometimes both.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Products liability claims are governed by 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/13-213.

  • The plaintiff may bring an action within 2 years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, of the existence of the personal injury, death or property damage, but in no event shall such action be brought more than 8 years after the date on which such personal injury, death or property damage occurred. 
  • In any such case, if the person entitled to bring the action was, at the time the personal injury, death or property damage occurred, under the age of 18 years, or under legal disability, then the period of limitations does not begin to run until the person attains the age of 18 years, or the disability is removed. 
  • No product liability action based on any theory or doctrine shall be commenced except within the applicable limitations period and, in any event, within 12 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession by a seller or 10 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession to its initial user, consumer, or other non-seller, whichever period expires earlier, of any product unit that is claimed to have injured or damaged the plaintiff, unless the defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period.