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Can Online Retailers Be Held Liable for Defective Product Injuries?

Posted on in Defective Products

Schaumburg personal injury attorney product liability

Online shopping has become a standard way that many people buy products, and it has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic since it allows people to receive necessities at their homes and minimize the risk of infections from traveling to stores to shop. However, one issue that has arisen for many online shoppers is the difficulty of determining who is responsible for injuries caused by defective products. A recent court ruling may help clarify these issues and provide consumers with the ability to pursue compensation from online retailers in product liability cases.

California Court Rules That Amazon Is Subject to Strict Product Liability

When consumers purchase products from an online retailer, they may not fully understand who manufactured, sold, or distributed the product, which can make it difficult to determine who is liable for injuries caused by product defects. This is particularly true on sites such as Amazon, where consumers can buy products from third-party sellers, with Amazon handling product warehousing and shipping. 

In the past, Amazon has argued that it should not be liable for defective products sold by third parties, and it has claimed that it simply serves as an online marketplace rather than a manufacturer, seller, or distributor of these products. A recent ruling by an appeals court in California has called these claims into question and found that “strict liability” rules apply to Amazon in cases involving defective products sold through the site.

In this case, a woman purchased a laptop battery from a third-party seller through Amazon’s marketplace. A few months later, the battery exploded, causing her to suffer severe burns. She pursued a lawsuit against the seller and Amazon, but Amazon claimed that it was not liable, because it was not the manufacturer, seller, or distributor of the product. A trial court ruled in Amazon’s favor, but the plaintiff appealed this decision.

The appeals court found that even if Amazon may not have technically been considered a retailer, distributor, or facilitator, it played a crucial role in the product’s chain of distribution. Amazon stored the product in its warehouse and shipped the product to the consumer, and it also set terms regarding how the product could be sold and required the buyer and seller to communicate through its site. Because the consumer would not have been injured by the product if Amazon had not facilitated the sale, the court ruled that the company was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. 

Contact Our Arlington Heights Product Liability Attorneys

When a defective product is purchased online, establishing liability for injuries caused by the product can often be a complex matter. While this recent court ruling applies to product liability cases in California, it may indicate that consumers in Illinois and throughout the United States will have an avenue to hold Amazon or other online retailers liable when they sell faulty or defective products. If you have suffered an injury due to product defects, the skilled attorneys of Newland & Newland, LLP can help you determine who was responsible, and we will fight to make sure you are fully compensated for your damages. Contact our Schaumburg defective products lawyers today at 847-797-8000 to arrange a free consultation.






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