Product Liability: Who is Liable?

Posted on March 11, 2011 at 4:40pm by

If a product is on the market for consumers to purchase, it means it has passed strict federal government standards and must be safe to use. Unfortunately, that statement is not always true. From automobiles to kids’ toys, defective and recalled products are in the headlines more than ever. Often times, consumers have already suffered significant injuries by the time the recall has occurred.

Whom Can I Sue in a Product Liability Claim?

A defective product is a product that is unreasonably dangerous, does not carry sufficient warnings or the manufacturer fails to provide complete or adequate instructions for the product’s use. The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is the government agency that tracks injuries and deaths from defective products. Some noteworthy CPSC findings:

  • Product liability cases have the second-highest median in damage awards at $300,000 – second only to medical malpractice cases
  • In December 2005, Dell recalled over 200,000 laptop batteries due to overheating and risk of fire
  • Approximately 26 infants die every year from dangerous cribs
  • In 2006, Toyota recalled over 1.4 million vehicles because of defective parts

In a product liability lawsuit, your Atlantic City injury attorney can identify all parties in the chain of distribution (the path from the manufacturer to consumer). The chain begins with the manufacturer, which can be a large corporation or a small business. If the defective product is part of a larger product, there may be a separate manufacturer of the defective part. You would have a potential claim against both manufacturers – the maker of the part and the maker of the larger product.

Next, the retailer may be liable for selling a defective product. Even if you were not the original purchaser, or if you were not the product user, the retailer is still potentially liable for your injuries. There are also so-called “middle men,” such as wholesalers, suppliers and distributors in the chain of distribution who may be responsible as well.

Identifying all the potentially liable parties in a product liability claim can be like navigating a maze. Taking the time to do so will increase your chances of a full financial recovery. If one of the defendants cannot afford to pay your recovery, the other defendants may have to pick up the monetary slack, so-to-speak. Therefore, it is always in your best interests to track down all potential defendants.

If you have suffered injuries from a defective product, contact an Atlantic City injury lawyer for a free evaluation about the merits of your case.