If you have been injured by a dangerous or faulty purchase, you may be considering filing a defective product claim. But just who should you bring this suit against? In the United States, you may be able to sue any and all parties in the “chain of distribution,” i.e. any entity involved with the product between manufacturing and distribution. Because of the multi-faceted nature of these cases, you will need the assistance of a skilled personal injury lawyer to help determine which direction to take your defective product lawsuit.
At the Law Offices of David Henderson, I believe in taking the time to hold all parties responsible in defective product cases. As an Anchorage defective product attorney with years of experience, you can count on me to assess your suit thoroughly and fight to secure every cent of compensation you are entitled to. Keep reading to learn more about what options may be available in your defective product case, and call (888) 295-6566 now for efficient and effective legal representation.
Option #1: Product Manufacturer
As the first link in the chain of distribution, product manufacturers are also the first party you will want to consider naming in a liability lawsuit. Manufacturers include anything from huge, global companies to small, one-person shops. For defective products with multiple parts or components, you may need to look at suing multiple manufacturers, depending on what elements of the product resulted in your injury. For instance, if you’re riding a bike and the wheel falls off, you may be able to bring a lawsuit not only against the bike company, but against the company that made the wheel, too.
Companies tied to the design or marketing of a product can also be found liable in certain lawsuits. This may include third-party contractors or consultants who were brought in to advise on the product in question and ultimately let it go to market without noticing it was hazardous. Quality-control experts, design engineers, technical advisors, and various other parties may all be found liable under this precedent.
Option #2: Product Retailer
The second noteworthy party in the chain of distribution is the retailer, aka wherever/whomever you bought the product from. Even if this party had nothing to do with the actual manufacturing of the product in question, they can still be named in a suit if they willingly sold and profited from a product that resulted in direct harm to consumers.
Option #3: Product Distributor
Although this party is actually the second in the chain of distribution, after the manufacturer and before the retailer, they are also the most elusive. That’s because a product distributor may include any number of entities which bridged the gap between the manufacturing and retailing stage of a product’s life. Suppliers, wholesalers, and trading companies can all be held accountable for distributing defective products. In essence, any party that worked as an intermediary between a manufacturer and a retailer, and facilitated the sale of a product that was defective, can be found liable.
What Else Should I Know About Defective Product Liability?
Because defective product cases cast such a wide net, plaintiffs often find themselves wondering how far the reach of their suit can extend. While every case is different, there are a few important questions you may want to consider before proceeding with a lawsuit.
Common Questions About Defective Product Cases Include:
- Can I still sue even if the product wasn’t mine? The short answer is yes. You do not have to buy a product to be harmed by its defective nature. For instance, if you ask to borrow your friend’s cellphone, and it catches fire, you still have grounds to sue if you sustain any injuries. In fact, you don’t even have to use the product in order to sue based on defects. Say the person standing next to you is holding a phone that catches fire, and you end up getting burned as a result. This would still open grounds for a defective product case, even if you had no prior relationship to the product.
- Can I sue a foreign company? While this may vary somewhat depending on international law and which party was responsible for what in the chain of distribution, the short answer to this question is also yes. When a foreign company agrees to do business in the U.S., they are opening themselves up to U.S. rules and regulations, which means they can usually be found liable in a U.S. court of law.
- Can I sue if the company that manufactured/distributed/sold the product in question has dissolved, merged, or been acquired? Countless companies in the U.S. exist as part of a larger corporation. Because corporations are technically considered people under U.S. law, they can be held liable for any role in the chain of distribution. However, corporations often consist of multiple entities, including various companies and subsidiaries. Because of their collective nature, corporations are malleable, and prone to change based on acquisitions, mergers, and dissolutions. However, whenever a corporation undergoes reorganization, it assumes possession not only of any assets but any legal obligations of all companies under their larger umbrella. So, unless the responsible company in your case completely dissolves, chances are you will be able to continue your suit against their larger parent corporation. Moreover, even in cases where the responsible company is completely dissolved, parties that profited from or controlled the assets which led to the manufacturing/distribution/or sale of a defective product may still be found liable.
- Can I sue if I purchase a used product? If you purchase a product that was previously owned by someone else, and that product worked fine before you purchased it, you may or may not be able to file a defective product lawsuit. Although several laws are currently in flux surrounding this question, different states have different statues depending on the scenario. As a rule of thumb, if the product in question is old, and prone to break down over time, chances are you will not be able to claim it was defective in a lawsuit. However, if the product was new, and by all accounts in good condition when you purchased it, you may have a case.
A good way to determine the difference is by considering the pre-owned vehicle market. If you purchase a used car that is over 20-years-old, with hundreds of thousands of miles on it, chances are you will not be able to sue for product liability in the event it breaks down. However, if you purchase a car that’s less than 5 years old, or has less than 100,000 miles on it, and you suffer injuries as a result of its poor performance, you will have a better chance of winning a defective product case.
Remember, defective product cases are not usually litigated by determining which party to sue. When it comes to defective products, the right attorney will identify any and all parties responsible and attempt to hold them liable on your behalf. Many product defect cases operate under a doctrine known as “res ipsa loquitur,” a Latin phrase which translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” This means that the burden of proof rests on the defendant to show that their product is safe, rather than on the plaintiff to demonstrate that it is not. With the exception of naturally dangerous products like weapons, almost all products can be found defective in a court of law, so it is in your best interests to contact a lawyer right away if you are hurt using what should be a safe piece of equipment.
Contact the Law Offices of David Henderson Today
At the Law Offices of David Henderson, when I take on a case, I always devote the utmost attention to it. From defective product litigation, to catastrophic injury claims, to wrongful death suits, my mandate is to provide every client with personalized, attentive service, so they never feel like they are facing their legal challenges alone. With 20 years of personal injury experience, millions of dollars recovered in settlements, and a reputation for achieving results among the citizens of Anchorage, you can trust that I will never stop fighting for you. Call the Law Offices of David Henderson today, and hire representation that refuses to quit.
Dial (888) 295-6566 now to tell me more about your case, or contact my firm online for a free consultation.