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Amazon and liability for defective products

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2020 | Product Liability

Purchasing goods online has become an almost automatic response for individuals when they need something, whether it is a common household item or a gift for a loved one. For years, Amazon has dominated the online shopping marketplace.

While many useful, necessary and reliable products are sold by Amazon and through Amazon by third-party vendors, unfortunately some dangerous and defective products have entered the stream of commerce through Amazon.

When consumers are injured by products purchased on Amazon that are sold by third-party sellers, Amazon has been able to continually use the same defense to evade liability for these harms. The online retailer claims that these customers and sellers are simply passing through to use their platform as a means to connect and make a transaction. Thus, Amazon has stated that it is merely a passing intermediary.

This legal defense has allowed Amazon to avoid liability for numerous products liability claims, and for the most part, courts have been satisfied with the claims made by Amazon. However, there are current signs of these defenses fracturing, as it is being questioned if Amazon is truly a hands-off player when it comes to these transactions.

When a customer purchases a product on Amazon, there is actually very little guarantee that it has been expertly vetted for safety before being placed on the market. In 2019, it was found that more than 4,000 products that were banned, unsafe or mislabeled were sold on the company’s platform. This ranged from faulty motorcycle helmets to magnetic toys being labeled as a choking hazard. These products resulted in serious, and, in some cases, fatal injuries to consumers.

A recent case in appeals court found that Amazon was involved in the purchasing process, thereby causing it to meet the definition of a seller. Thus, this opens up the possibility to hold both Amazon and the seller liable in the event of a defective or dangerous product being sold on-line.

Those harmed by a defective product should take the time to explore their rights. The injuries and losses suffered can be extensive, requiring an injured consumer to seek compensation for these damages.