Expiration Dates & Defective Products: What You Need to Know

Many products come with expiration dates, especially food and medication. Whether a product is defective may or may not be because it has expired, so it’s important to consider all factors to determine who’s legally responsible for selling an item that caused an injury.


First it can help to understand the types of expiration dates. These include:

  • Sell-By: A date that reveals how long a store should display a product before it expires.
  • Best If Used By: A date that serves as a benchmark for best flavor or quality.
  • Use-By: A date the manufacturer has designated to reveal how long a product is expected to remain at peak quality.

Oftentimes, an expiration date doesn’t provide information on storing a product at home or when to use it. “Use-By” dates aren’t for safety, just to help consumers get the most quality out of a product. Most products at home are indeed safe to use even if their expiration date expires. That is unless food has been mishandled, improperly stored, or contaminated with bacteria.

How Do I Know I Have a Product Liability Case?

First, you need to consider your state’s statute of limitations. In California, this is two years for a personal injury claim. Second, your product liability claim must meet four basic elements. These include:

  • Duty of Care: You must show the defendant owed you a duty of care; manufacturers of consumer products are held to high standards, from product compliance to quality control checks.
  • Breach of Duty: A company must have breached the duty of care owed to the consumer. For example, it supplied a product with a defective design, past due date, or despite a lack of quality control measures.
  • Injuries Due to Breach of Duty: A breach of duty must have occurred, and directly caused your injury. This means you must have been injured to file a claim; otherwise, it’s impossible to prove a breach took place.
  • There Were Damages: Compensable damages include lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering. The lack of a physical injury would limit any compensation to the cost of the product in question.

Who Can I Sue for an Injury Related to a Defective/Expired Product?

A product liability case may involve the manufacturer, which is responsible for creating the product. They can also be liable for a faulty component; in which case a second manufacturer or supplier may be involved. Any entity that designs, manufactures, or markets a product can be named in a defective product lawsuit.

In some cases, the product retailer may be liable whether you were the primary user or not the buyer. A defective item purchased by a family member can be the subject of a lawsuit, such as a medication someone in your household purchased that harmed you. The company it originated from or the store where it was purchased may be liable for damages.

If you were not using the product (i.e., another individual was using it, and a piece came loose and injured you), you may still have a case. Even if a product was purchased used, the manufacturer, supplier, or party that sold it to you may be liable.

Call Jacob Today

If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective product or item used past its expiration date, contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani. We can be reached at 888-952-2952, or you can request a free case consultation by sending us a message online.

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