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Recourse for Defective Products Sold on Amazon

Can You Sue Amazon for Defective Product Damages and Injuries?

In 2017, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items just through its Prime Program. According to a released report from Amazon, entertainment products and assorted household care products were the most consumed products. When you order anything from Amazon, you expect some form of quality control.

When Products Go Wrong

However, when products sold through the Amazon platform result in injuries and damages, many consumers are usually at a loss as to whom to hold accountable. There have been multiple lawsuits filed against Amazon citing negligence and failure by the company to guarantee product safety, which leads to numerous personal injury incidents.

Nowadays, it's possible to buy just about anything online with consumers expecting that whatever they purchase is up to standard and safe for consumption or use. Unfortunately, the swift growth of e-commerce has left a lot to be desired for consumer protection. The various online retailers provide millions of products worldwide. However, they use third-party vendors for most of their items, which continues to create quality control and safety problems.

However, Amazon has continuously defended itself on the basis that it is simply a "services provider" and not a "seller." Therefore, the company maintains that it's not responsible for faulty products sold by third parties on its site. The million-dollar question remains. Who's responsible for defective products sold on Amazon that end up causing injuries, harm and losses to the consumer? Until recently, courts all over the country, attorneys and consumers alike were waiting to see whether Amazon would, at last, be held accountable for a third-party’s defective product.

Who Should Be Held Liable for Defective Merchandise Sold on Amazon?

The eagerly awaited verdict of the Oberdorf case appealed by Amazon in 2019 was supposed to guide the future. The lawsuit involved a plaintiff who was gravely injured when a dog leash purchased through Amazon from a third-party vendor sprung back, hitting her left eye and permanently damaging it. Amazon stood its ground, arguing that it cannot be held responsible as a seller. The company maintained that its online business role was to connect vendors with potential customers by simply providing a central platform where the two parties could meet and facilitate transactions.

However, the Third Circuit differed and maintained that Amazon was uniquely positioned and able to prevent defective products from infiltrating the market at all costs. This is because when consumers give feedback, the reviews will either reflect positively or negatively on Amazon. The Third Circuit argued that imposing accountability would enhance safety, mostly because customers often fail to locate the original third-party vendors. The ruling contradicted previous court decisions whereby the 4th and 6th circuits maintained that Amazon could not be held accountable as a "seller" according to the federal products liability laws.

Amazon immediately filed a request counteracting the decision made by the Third Circuit. The company wanted the decision overturned, arguing that the court had just established a cycle of endless similar litigations in conflicting previous rulings. The court agreed to hear the case with a full panel present. The new panel could reverse, modify or reinstate the original verdict after evaluating the presented evidence. The case was sent to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the court asked to handle it with utmost importance since it was a public matter. Being a case of the first impression, the ruling on whether Amazon should be liable for defective products sold by third-party merchants on its site would, indeed, be instrumental. Had the court gotten the chance to retain the original verdict, it would have exposed Amazon to a series of lawsuits originating from products sold on its platform.

Interestingly, as fate would have it, two months after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to look into the case afresh, both parties decided to settle. The lawsuit, dubbed Oberdorf v. Amazon, was dismissed from the Pennsylvania Court of Appeal after the parties' agreement. The settlement means that the queries on whether Amazon, one of the biggest online retailers, can be sued under Pennsylvania law for faulty products sold on its platform will remain unanswered for now for the foreseeable future.

When Should You File a Product Liability Claim?

The rule of "Strict Liability" usually governs defective product claims or product liability claims. In strict liability lawsuits, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant was at fault or made a mistake, causing his or her injuries. When filing for a product liability lawsuit, before a court of law, you must prove that:
  • You sustained injuries and losses. You must have sustained an actual physical injury or suffered monetary loss due to using the faulty product. Without real damage or loss, you don't have a case.
  • The merchandise is faulty. You must prove that the product either had a manufacturing or design defect or that the company or seller neglected to issue a warning of the potential risks associated with the product.
  • The defect caused the injury. The defect must be the primary causal factor of the damage or sustained injuries. However, if your injuries were caused by another action that supersedes the faulty item, the defendant cannot be liable for your suffering.
  • You were using the product as intended. You must have been using the product as the manufacturer initially intended.
Usually, proving that the injuries sustained and subsequent damages resulted from using the faulty product is the most challenging to ascertain. The majority of companies fight back with all they've got to avoid their products being labeled as false. Nonetheless, with irrefutable evidence and proper legal representation from our Allentown personal injury attorney, you are advantageously placed to recover substantial compensation for injuries caused by defective products.

What Compensation Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help You Recover From a Defective Product Claim?

The manufacturer or seller should provide compensation for any damages and injuries that result from merchandise defects. When the plaintiff wins a product liability claim, he or she can qualify for damages covering:
  • Lost income
  • Both present and future medical expenses
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Damaged property
  • Emotional distress

Consult a Personal Injury Attorney If a Defective Product Has Caused Damage or Injury

Even if you cannot presently hold Amazon responsible for damages caused by defective products sold on its site, there is always a third party that manufactured and distributed the product who is liable for your damages. If the product you purchased online was faulty and caused damages or injuries to you or a loved one, you have rights. Manufacturers and sellers must ensure that their products are defect-free and safe for use. If, at any point, a seller suspects a product is faulty, he or she must act accordingly and remove the item from the shelf to protect the public from harm.

Injuries caused by faulty products can bring about significant physical, financial, psychological and emotional distress. If you are suffering from injuries and damages caused by a defective product you bought online, the law firm of Metzger & Kleiner in Allentown, PA, can help you explore your legal options and start the litigation process. Product liability lawsuits require an attorney with enough experience going up against established online and offline retailers and manufacturers alike.

Our Allentown personal injury attorneys are aware of the harm faulty products cause to individuals and families. They have successfully handled numerous personal injury cases in the past. If you have suffered from material loss and physical injuries from an item that you purchased on Amazon, the attorneys at our offices can help you file a claim for just compensation. To reach one of our injury attorneys, contact us online, or call our Lehigh Valley office at (610) 435-7400.

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