Have you ever encountered a defective product? Most often a defect simply means something that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to when it comes out of the box, usually an electronic or gadget that has a flaw in its electronic circuitry. However, any product can be defective, and if the defect happens to be serious enough to the point where it causes someone to become injured, then the injury victim could potentially file an injury claim against one of several parties responsible for the product reaching their hands. On this blog, we’ll explain these different parties and how they all could have contributed to the negligence that led to your injury.
The Chain of Distribution
A product has to pass through several different stops before it can reach a consumer’s hands. This path is known as the chain of distribution, and is important in that anybody along this chain can potentially play a part in the negligence that resulted in a defective product. Therefore, they could all carry a share of the liability. Here are the various steps in the distribution process.
A product begins at the manufacturer, where the raw materials for a product are pieced together, creating the product itself. It’s important to note that some manufacturers are merely final assembly points, whereas others take the raw materials themselves and form them into what’s necessary to create the final product. A manufacturer who merely assembles a product from parts acquired from other manufacturers isn’t the first step in the chain. Likewise, all of these different companies can have a hand in product liability. A defective component from one manufacturer can cause an entire product to fail, leaving both that manufacture, and the one who failed to notice the defective component when assembling the final product with a share of liability.
Once a product is created, it may then be passed to a distributor or a wholesaler. These third-party middlemen are essentially responsible for collecting products from various sources and then bringing them to the stores where they can be purchased. These companies also have a responsibility to ensure that the products they work with are safe for use and have a minimal chance of causing an injury due to a defect. However, not all products go through one of these companies, so they are not always a part of the equation. Furthermore, a wholesaler or distributor who doesn’t have any reason to believe a product is dangerous or defective may not have a duty to pull it from their supply.
Finally, a product reaches its last stop before it gets into the hands of the consumer: a retailer. This is the store or company that sells the final product or utilizes it in their services. These businesses and companies have a duty to ensure the products they’re selling are safe to use and consume, and besides manufacturers often have one of the largest shares of liability in this chain.
Who Should You Sue?
If you have been injured by a defective product, which of these parties should you hold responsible? The answer is a simple one: as many of them as possible. However, the question then becomes who along this chain actually shares in some of the liability? The manufacturer almost always has at least some contribution to the defective product since they were the ones to make it in the first place. However, if they do their due diligence and promptly recall all potentially dangerous products off the market, they could potentially be off the hook for the actions of a retailer or distributor.
Distributors could find themselves in trouble if their conduct causes the products to become dangerous, such as leaving heat-sensitive products in hot warehouses or trucks for too long. Furthermore, they could be implicated for knowingly distributing a product that was defective or on recall to retailers.
Finally, retailers also need to make the effort to pull defective or recalled products from their shelves before they’re sold. A retailer could be held liable for selling a defective product to a consumer, even if the consumer who is injured by the product is a) not the person who bought it, b) not the one who used the product, or c) purchased a product that was already used. It’s this same principal that allows consumers to hold car dealers who sell “certified pre-owned” vehicles liable for defects that cause injury, even if they aren’t the ones originally selling the car.If you have suffered an injury as a result of a defective product, contact Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa, P.C. today by dialing (203) 583-8299 and requesting a case evaluation!