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Product Liability Claims in the Age of E-Commerce

In recent years, online shopping has become an integral part of many people’s lives. With the convenience of just a few clicks, we can order products from around the world and have them delivered to our doorstep, all without ever having to step foot in a brick-and-mortar location.

While this convenience has revolutionized the way we shop, it’s also raised important questions about who is (and isn’t) responsible for the quality of the products we buy. In a time when third-party sellers can offer items through the online stores of trusted retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart, it’s easy for multiple parties to end up pointing fingers at each other when defective products wind up in the hands of consumers.

A key component of consumer rights is the ability to seek damages from liable parties when a defective product causes harm. Filing product liability claims becomes tricky, however, if you’re not sure who exactly is legally liable.

That’s where Kiesel Law comes in. Our attorneys are experts in online product liability claims and defective product lawsuits. In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of product liability claims in the age of e-commerce. For more information about filing a product liability claim, contact Kiesel Law today for a free consultation!

Who is Liable for a Defective Product When Buying Online?

Online shopping platforms, like Amazon, eBay, and countless others, have transformed the way we buy goods. These platforms connect consumers with sellers from across the globe, offering a vast array of products. However, they also introduce complexities when it comes to determining liability for defective products.

A woman browser an e-commerce online marketplace

The Role of Third-Party Sellers

One of the key challenges in online shopping is the prevalence of third-party sellers. Many online marketplaces allow independent sellers to list their products, often alongside items sold directly by the platform itself. Identifying who is liable for a defective product isn’t always cut-and-dry when said product is purchased online.

In some cases, the liability may fall on the third-party seller if they were negligent in ensuring the product’s quality. However, if the online marketplace played a significant role in facilitating the sale, it may share liability. That’s why most large marketplaces purchase product liability insurance for online retailers. Many small third-party sellers, meanwhile, do not. 

In instances where a defective product causes harm, the manufacturer may also be held liable. Determining the degree of responsibility between the seller, the platform, and the manufacturer can be a complex legal process. In situations like these, it helps to have the experienced attorneys at Kiesel Law by your side to help you navigate the chain of liability.

Consumer Protections

To safeguard consumers, many countries have implemented laws and regulations that govern online transactions. These regulations typically outline the responsibilities of both sellers and online platforms, helping to clarify liability issues.

One such regulation is the European Union’s Consumer Rights Directive, which gives consumers a legal right to return faulty products within 14 days of receiving them. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces consumer protection laws and has guidelines for online shopping. Understanding your rights as a consumer is essential for untangling the complexities of e-commerce product liability claims.

Steps to Take If You Receive a Defective Product

If you have received a product from an online retailer or marketplace, and you believe the item is defective, here are a few simple steps you should follow:

  • Review the Return Policy: Before making a purchase online, familiarize yourself with the seller’s return policy and the platform’s dispute resolution process. Most reputable platforms have clear policies in place to address defective products.
  • Document the Issue: If you receive a defective product, document the issue immediately. Take clear photos or videos that clearly show the defect, packaging, and any other relevant details. This documentation will be crucial when seeking a refund or replacement.
  • Contact the Seller or Platform: Reach out to the seller or the online marketplace’s customer service to report the problem. Be sure to provide all relevant information, including order details and your documentation of the defect.
  • Keep Records: Maintain records of all communication with the seller or platform, including emails, chat logs, or phone call transcripts. These records can serve as evidence if the dispute escalates.
  • Dispute Resolution: If the seller or platform does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction, consider using the platform’s dispute resolution process or filing a complaint with a relevant consumer protection agency in your jurisdiction.
  • Chargeback (for Credit Card Payments): If you paid for the product with a credit card, you may have the option to initiate a chargeback. This process allows you to dispute the transaction with your credit card issuer and request a refund.
  • Legal Action: As a last resort, you may consider pursuing legal action against the seller or the online platform. Even if you have received a replacement product and/or a refund, you may be eligible for compensation. If the defective product caused harm to you or someone you love (such as in the case of a defective drug or pharmaceutical product), you may be able to claim damages. Kiesel Law’s legal professional can help you determine the best course of action.

A person using their credit card to buy products online

Consumers Rights Come First at Kiesel Law

Can retailers be held liable for defective products? The short answer is yes. However, in the age of e-commerce, the line that divides retailers from marketplaces is often blurry. At Kisel Law, nothing is more important to us than making sure consumers are protected. We want to make sure your rights are respected.

If you have been negatively affected by the negligence of an online retailer or defective product manufacturer, you deserve compensation. You deserve justice. Most of all, you deserve a law firm that will fight for your rights. Kiesel Law has helped countless plaintiffs pursue product liability claims. Let us do the same for you.