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Are product liability changes coming to e-commerce?

| Feb 26, 2021 | Products Liability

The internet has contributed tremendous changes to the retail landscape. Not surprisingly, ripple effects are traveling through the legal world as new laws involving product liability and online sales end up debated. Recent legislative news could potentially influence New York retailers and their customers. While a proposed California bill has not become law, the legislation has sparked debate.

Adding retailers to a liability list

Today, millions of consumers purchase goods through online marketplaces. However, not all goods and products are safe for consumers. A consumer electronics device made with a defect capable of causing a fire could lead to severe injuries. In the aftermath of an injury, litigation may take place targeting those responsible.

AB 3262 refers to a product liability bill considered by California lawmakers. The law would extend product liability responsibility to e-commerce sites. Essentially, the bill would open doors to sue “electronic retailers” that allow defective products to reach the market.

The retailer eBay recently came out against the bill, but, surprisingly, Amazon supported the legislation. The legislation appears to be moving forward in California. Perhaps other states may explore similar laws.

The concept of product liability

Product liability laws focus on negligence surrounding dangerous or defective goods. Several entities could end up named as defendants in a product liability case. The manufacturer, the seller and a distributor might all face a lawsuit.

Many businesses carry product liability insurance, which could provide a settlement to customers injured by a defective product. For many, seeking an insurance settlement is preferable to litigation, but a complex negotiation process might occur with the insurance provider. An attorney may handle such negotiations on a client’s behalf.

Questions about product liability law and internet sellers may prove complicated. Directing such questions to an attorney might be necessary.