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Who Is Liable for Defective Holiday Gifts?

December 21, 2018


According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend more than $700 billion on holiday gifts and goodies each year. However, when you give or receive a present from someone, you don’t expect anyone to be injured by the jester. Nonetheless, during each holiday season, both children and adults end up at the emergency room seeking medical care. If you purchased a product for yourself or someone else that had an unexpected defect, the manufacturer and the sellers in the product’s distribution chain may be liable for damages caused by a dangerous product or defective condition.

There are three types of product defects that can result in product liability cases: design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects.Since there are no federal product liability laws, claims to seek restitution for damages are based on state law and must be brought under a theory of:

  • negligence,
  • strict liability, or
  • breach of warranty

As a legal rule, product liability identifies the members in a defective products distribution chain, who are potentially liable to a person injured by a defective or dangerous product, including the seller, distributors, and the manufacturer. This is regardless of whether the defendant took action to do everything possible to make sure the defect could not occur.

Strict product liability laws hold the manufacturer and/or seller responsible for placing a dangerous, defective or unsafe product in the hands of the injured party. Since the retailer or store is part of the product’s distribution network, even the retailer can potentially be liable in a defective product’s claim. However, the plaintiff must prove: the manufacturer or seller owed a duty to provide a safe product; the manufacturer or seller breached that duty; and the breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff's injury. If injured by a defective product, contact a personal injury attorney at Schackow&Mercadante to discuss the details surrounding your claim.

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