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Who Is Responsible For a Defective Product?

Our economy is built on products. Tens of thousands of new products are released into the market and made available for consumers each and every day. Some are revolutionary, life-changing, and become staples of how we live. Others almost never see the light of day. However, what all these products have in common is that there’s the potential for an injury risk associated with them. A weak point in the plastic that creates an unexpected sharp edge, a tendency to fail which can cause a serious burn, or even contamination which may cause serious illness—all are possible and have happened in the past.

If you’ve been injured by one of these defective products, there is some good news: you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. Defective products are a liability, and thus you could potentially hold someone accountable for allowing this product which presents such a serious danger to be released into the market. But who is this person or company? This question isn’t always straightforward. Product liability can be complicated, and liability isn’t always easy to assign. Sometimes it’s not even a single party—multiple parties can share the blame for a defective product.

On this blog, we’ll take a closer look at who holds the liability for the defect product and who you could potentially hold accountable.

The Manufacturer

The manufacturers usually take most of, if not all of the blame for a defective product. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure the products they release to the market are safe to use in the manner they are intended. Should normal use cause them to potentially injure someone, the object could be deemed dangerous. Likewise, if normal use can cause them to break, and the broken object causes injuries, the object could be deemed defective and dangerous.

This is easiest to demonstrate with cars. Recalls are a pretty normal part of car ownership. With so many different systems, technologies, and changing materials, something is bound to not work quite as intended. When that’s the case and the failure of that part may cause the car to stop working, or even result in an injury, the manufacturer will recall it. Recalls are essentially the manufacturer saying they are aware of a problem with the vehicle, and offering to repair it for free so the risk to you is negated. Unfortunately, recalls often don’t come until the potential defect has impacted the lives of dozens of people, and sometimes it’s too late to prevent serious injuries. In these cases, the manufacturer would be held liable for the injuries their product, the vehicle, can cause.

The Distributor

Distribution companies are the “middle men” of product supply lines. Their job is to take products from manufacturers and get them on the shelves of retailers around the country. This is often a tremendous undertaking, which means they make tens or even hundreds of thousands of units of a single product in order to distribute it widely. Unfortunately, when there’s a defect in that particular product, distributors may find that they’re suddenly on the hook for some of the liability for it.

When a product has a defect in it, but distributors still bring it to stores where it’s stocked, they’re almost certainly going to hold a share of the liability for that product, especially if it causes a significant injury. However, proving the distributor was a negligent party in a defective product case is difficult, and thus they are not often pursued in these suits.

The Seller

The seller of the defective item could also be held liable for the damages caused by a defective product. When they discover a product they sell is defective or contains a serious risk for injury, it’s their responsibility to pull it from the shelves in order to prevent further serious injury. This usually happens when a product is officially recalled.

Perhaps the best illustration for how would be to use a restaurant. Restaurants have a duty to keep their kitchens clean, keep their food fresh and stored properly, and ensure that it’s prepared according to all food safety guidelines for your protection. However, if a restaurant knowingly uses food that’s past its expiration date or shirks some of its responsibility to keep the kitchen clean and sanitary, it could result in serious illness and injury to customers.

While restaurants don’t hold responsibility for something like an adverse reaction from your stomach (food poisoning isn’t usually grounds for a lawsuit), a serious illness could be. Contracting e coli or another serious foodborne illness from a restaurant could result in their being held liable, especially if they served you food knowing full well that there was a possibility it could have been contaminated.

If you have been injured by a defective product, discuss your rights by calling Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427!