Amazon Product Liability & Consumer Safety
For millions of people, Amazon is their one-stop shop for many of the purchases they make. Whether you’re looking for a book, clothes, toys, sporting equipment, or any number of other things, you can probably buy it from Amazon at a great price. And if Amazon.com doesn’t directly carry something, you may still be able to buy it from a third-party merchant who sells through Amazon’s platform.
When people buy a product, they do so believing it will be reasonably safe for them to use. After all, there are regulations in place that require brick-and-mortar stores like Target and Wal-Mart to do things like remove products from store shelves if they are found to be dangerous and are recalled. Companies that manufacture products also have a responsibility to report defective products and issue recalls for them. Many people would assume that online retailers would also be subject to similar regulations. However, due to legal technicalities, e-retailers like Amazon aren’t necessarily subject to the same Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations that product manufacturers and brick-and-mortar stores are.
In a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, investigators found 4,152 items for sale on Amazon that federal agencies had declared to be unsafe or deceptively labeled, or had been outright banned by federal regulators. At least 2,000 of those listings involved toys and medications that did not adequately warn about potential health risks to children. Many of those products were removed after the report was published, but it isn’t the first time Amazon has faced criticism for dangerous products being available on their site.
Because of the sheer volume of products available to purchase through Amazon, it’s extremely difficult for Amazon to monitor every item listed for sale and make sure that nothing has been recalled or banned and that every product is properly labeled and contains all necessary warnings. When faced with accusations of selling dangerous products in the past, Amazon typically tries to argue that they weren’t technically the seller of the product, they merely run a platform for products to be sold on. Amazon estimates that 58% of all sales of physical products on their site are through third-party merchants and they argue that those third-party merchants are responsible for their own product listings.
Making matters even more complicated is the fact that every state has their own laws for product liability. In many states, cases involving Amazon being accused of selling products that have injured people have ended with courts siding with Amazon’s argument about not being the seller of said product. However, Pennsylvania has very strict product liability laws and a federal appeals court recently ruled against Amazon’s argument in a case involving the laws in that state.
With all the complications involving liability and products sold on Amazon, it’s extremely important to contact a defective product lawyer as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been injured by a product purchased on Amazon. In these kinds of cases, having someone on your side who fully understands the law can be very beneficial. They’ll be able to help answer all of your questions and can help you figure out what steps need to be taken next. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to speak to an experienced defective product who can help. Contact us today for help with your case.