Who is Liable in a Defective Product Lawsuit?

Who is Liable in a Defective Product Lawsuit?

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Business, Published On
July 22, 2022
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If you have been injured through no fault of your own by using a defective product, then understanding the next steps to take can be confusing. The first step is to identify who may be liable for the damages. The majority of states have very similar laws in terms of which defendants you can name when a product has caused an injury or illness.

Who is Liable in a Defective Product Lawsuit?

  • Manufacturer

If you are unsure who to name as a defendant if you are planning to claim for product liability, then a good lawyer who specializes in product liability such as RB Law can help cut through some of the confusion. You will usually begin with the manufacturer of the product that has caused the injury, as the chain of distribution will begin with them. Depending on the individual product, the manufacturer could be anything from a sole trader working from their home to a large, multinational company. If the issue with the product is a defective part that belongs to a particular product, then you may need to include both manufacturers of the entire product and the component in question as defendants.

  • Retailer

While the store or shop where you purchased the product that caused the injury or illness is unlikely to have designed or manufactured it, you can still name them as a defendant in most cases as they have sold a defective item. If you purchased the product from a different company to the manufacturer, then you should consider naming both the manufacturer and the retailer as defendants in your suit, as they are still involved in the chain of distribution of the defective product.

In many cases you can sue the retailer and recover damages even if you did not buy or use the product yourself. If somebody else bought the product for you, or you sustained in injury or illness due to being nearby when the defective product was being used by another person, this may still be grounds for you to hold the retailer that sold it liable.

  • Middlemen

There may be various different ‘middlemen’ companies such as distributors, suppliers, and wholesalers that enter the distribution chain at some point between the manufacturer and the retail store. They may also be named as defendants and could potentially be held liable in a product liability lawsuit.

Why Name Multiple Defendants?

‘Joint and several’ liability is one of the main reasons to name as many defendants as possible in your product liability lawsuit. Essentially, this means that all defendants are liable both separately and jointly for any damages that are awarded to you. The more potential defendants you name, the higher your chance of getting the compensation you are entitled to since if one defendant cannot pay for any reason, the others will be required to cover it.

If you were injured or became unwell when using a product, it can be difficult to figure out who is responsible. There are often several parties involved in the chain of distribution of a product that has caused injury or illness, and each can be a potential defendant in your case.

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