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Are Online Retailers Responsible for Selling Dangerous or Defective Products?

Are Online Retailers Responsible for Selling Dangerous or Defective Products?

A recent California court decision found that an online retailer could be held responsible in a product liability case.

Are Online Retailers Responsible for Selling Dangerous or Defective Products?

We use hundreds or even thousands of products every day, from the food that we eat to the medicine that we take to the vehicles that we drive. We trust that if those products are on the marketplace, they are safe. After all, isn’t that the point of government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)?

Unfortunately, just because you are able to purchase something doesn’t actually mean that it is safe. Far too often, products that we bring into our home are dangerous or defective in some way, putting us and our loved ones at risk of injury. In these situations, a California personal injury lawyer can help you file a products liability lawsuit to recover for your damages.

Products liability cases are a type of personal injury lawsuit. In essence, this type of case seeks to hold a manufacturer, retailer, or distributor financially responsible for products that they made, distributed, or sold that caused harm to others due to a defect. There are three types of products liability cases:

  • Design defect (something about the design of the product is defective)
  • Manufacturing defect (the product was incorrectly made)
  • Failure to warn (i.e., consumers were not instructed how to use the product safely, or warned about possible dangers)

Products liability cases are based on a theory of strict liability, which means that a victim doesn’t have to prove that the manufacturer, retailer, or distributor was negligent in some way to recover for their injuries. Instead, if they can prove certain things, such as the existence of a defect, then the company is presumed to be liable for their injuries.

The rise of online shopping has created a new angle to products liability cases. Companies like Amazon sell millions of products. Can they be held responsible in a products liability case as a retailer or distributor? If so, then that may allow injury victims to bring these massive corporations into a lawsuit — which can mean that they will be fully compensated for their losses.

Two recent cases, one in Ohio and one in California, help us understand how the law is developing in this area. In the California case, a consumer was injured by an exploding battery. A court found that Amazon could be held liable for it because the seller participated in the “fulfilled by Amazon” program, which means that at some point, Amazon had possession or control over it. In the Ohio case, a teen died from ingesting caffeine powder purchased from Amazon. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that because Amazon never had possession of the product and the vendor didn’t participate in the fulfillment by Amazon program, it could not be held strictly liable for the teen’s death.

If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, a skilled California personal injury lawyer can analyze the facts of your case to determine who can be held responsible — including an online retailer like Amazon. Contact PLBSH today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.

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