When you purchase a product—from a water kettle to a baby crib to a car—you expect it to work as it was designed. If you have problems with it, you expect that the manufacturer will fix the problem, replace the product, or issue a recall. In most cases, they do.
Should a product cause an injury, that’s a completely different matter. Defective products (or parts used to build them) can cause a wide range of catastrophic injuries, and even wrongful death.
Generally, there are three categories for defective product liability:
- Design defects—even the best products may have a design flaw, if the risk of harm is greater than the possible benefits of using the product. This can apply to nearly any manufactured products, but especially prescription drugs and medical devices such as implants, surgical meshes and the like.
- Manufacturing defects—anything during the manufacturing process that changes a product from the original design into something that becomes hazardous. Construction defects can affect products such as airbags or other things that, when used correctly, cause harm to a consumer.
- Marketing defects—when a company fails to provide proper instructions for the safe use of a product, or fail to warn consumers about the risks of using a product (such as steam burns while using an electric pressure cooker.)
Proving Defective Product Liability
Just because you have a defective product doesn’t mean you have a case against a manufacturer or seller. There are four elements that you must have in order to file a claim:
- You suffered injuries and/or losses from using the product
- The product in question is defective
- The product’s defect or defects caused your injuries
- You used the product as it was intended
You must have been using the product the way the manufacturer intended for you to utilize it. But if you use a product that isn’t for the purpose for which it was intended and suffered an injury as a result, you wouldn’t have a claim.There are some exceptions here. Some products are inherently dangerous, such as new kitchen knives. Since they are normally very sharp, an injury with a knife doesn’t count as liability because of the nature of the product.
Amazon and The Exploding Hoverboard
When they were first released in 2015, hoverboards were the next “fun” thing for both kids and adults. These self-propelled versions of skateboards don’t actually hover, but are battery-powered and work similar to a Segway. Amazon sold more than 250,000 in the first 30 days of their release. Amazon then halted the sales in mid-December after reports of fires and explosions began to surface.But even if you buy something on Amazon’s website, there’s a good chance you didn’t buy it from Amazon.Amazon’s FBA (“Fulfillment by Amazon,” also called “Amazon Marketplace”) program allows third-party sellers to market and sell their goods using their platform, reaching a wider range of customers than they would on their own website. Many of these products are manufactured around the world, and don’t always conform to US safety standards. When something goes wrong, as they did with the hoverboards, it may be impossible to find them to hold them liable for product liability.In two recent court rulings of hoverboard lawsuits, both judges ruled that Amazon was not liable in two separate lawsuits. The hoverboards suddenly caught fire for no apparent reason. In one case, Judge James A. Teilborg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona said that Amazon didn’t significantly participate in the stream of commerce that delivered the hoverboards to the customer, therefore, Amazon wasn’t responsible under Arizona law.In the second case, a woman in Nashville, Tennessee bought a hoverboard for her teenaged son for Christmas. The hoverboard spontaneously exploded and caused a fire that destroyed the family home just a month later. Her children jumped out of windows and her husband suffered broken bones trying to escape the fire.The family sued Amazon for $30M, but Judge William Campbell dismissed the case in 2018, since Amazon was simply a seller, not a manufacturer. The judge wrote, “Amazon’s role in the transaction was to provide a mechanism to facilitate the interchange between the entity seeking to sell the product and the individual who sought to buy it.” Additionally, under Tennessee law, Amazon did not violate any duty to warn customers about problems with the product that manufactured and sold by other entities through the platform.In both cases, the batteries powering the hoverboards were found to be defective. Products sold with “genuine Samsung batteries” were found to be equipped with substandard batteries which were the cause of the fire.Amazon has escaped being held liable for many of the defective products they have sold on their website because the liability lies with the third-party sellers that used Amazon as a marketing platform.
Defective Product Liability Law Firm In Kansas City
Defective products of all kinds can leave you with serious injuries. Don’t let an insurance company talk you out of the compensation you need right now.If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective product, contact The Popham Law Firm. Call us at (816) 221-2288 today or use our contact form. We’ll schedule an appointment and talk with you about how we can help.