The coronavirus pandemic in the United States has dramatically changed our lives. With most Americans living under some sort of “stay at home order,” we have also seen shifting in our shopping behavior. As many non-essential businesses have closed their doors, online shopping has increased. However, can you be sure that a product you purchased at Amazon or another online retailer is safe? At the Dan Doyle Law Group, our Philadelphia product liability lawyers want to discuss who can be held accountable if you are harmed due to a faulty product you purchase online.
Even though every product we purchase to use or consume should be safe, that is not always the case. Product recalls happening all the time, often due to a design flaw, error during the manufacturing process, or a labelling problem. Anyone who is injured or becomes ill due to a defective product can generally file a lawsuit against the product’s company or manufacturer to recover compensation.
However, product liability lawsuits become tricky when it comes to online purchases. To be sure, there are most certainly defective products sold online from major retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and more. Unfortunately, these major online retailers have generally not been held accountable for defective products that cause harm to consumers.
When we look at Amazon’s current policy, the company takes zero responsibility for flawed or defective items sold on its platform by third-party vendors. The online retailer says that they are simply a facilitator of a sale and bear no responsibility for injuries or illnesses. The courts have generally ruled in online retailers’ favour with these arguments – until recently.
Last year, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said that Amazon was liable as a seller of products sold by these third-party vendors. The full court has yet to rule on this case, but the three-judge panel ruling is already leading other courts to hold Amazon accountable for faulty products sold on their site.
As COVID-19 is shifting our shopping behaviour more and more online, we could soon see that consumers are better protected from defective products sold through online retailers. This is something that should have been done a long time ago, and we hope the courts ultimately rule to protect consumers.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to a defective product purchase online, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At the Dan Doyle Law Group, our team is ready to investigate what happened and work to secure any compensation you may be entitled to. This could include: