Now, more than ever, consumers in Louisiana and elsewhere rely on on-line shopping to meet their needs. Today, it is easy to purchase anything on-line, whether it is an electronic device, bedding, home appliances, pet needs or food. While the convenience is clear, as items are delivered to consumers quickly and without the need to step foot in the door, the reality is that on-line shopping comes with its concerns and pitfalls. One does not always know what they are getting, if the product is real and genuine and if it was properly made. Thus, defective products from on-line retailers are a huge concern, as it can leave consumers suffering significant harms and damages.
Amazon and liability for defective products
While consumers may not be aware, roughly third-party merchants sell 60% of all physical goods sold on Amazon. It is this relationship that Amazon has relied on to absolve its liability when there are claims of defective products sold on their site. However, recent cases have proven that Amazon’s winning streak against these claims is over. Current legislation could place liability on e-commerce retailers, like Amazon, simply because they are providing a platform for dubious merchants to sell dangerous products.
To put this in perspective, a recent case was brought to light. A consumer was burned by her laptop after it sparked because of a defective replacement battery purchased on Amazon. She suffered third-degree burns to her arms, legs and feet and fire damage to her bed and floor of her apartment. She filed an action against Amazon; however, they sought to dodge liability and only provided her with a refund as compensation.
E-commerce and product liability actions
Until recently, Amazon relied on their relationship with their sellers being at arms length, allowing them to be insulated from liability when defective products are sold. However, this often results in injured consumers to hold anyone liable because these merchants often disappear. Courts have started to apply the same rules for brick-and-mortar retailers to Amazon. This means that they will be liable for the products that they sell.
A consumer does not expect to suffer harms. Whether a product is sold in a store or online, if a defective product results in injuries and harms, a consumer could hold a seller liable through a products liability action. This not only places liability on the party or parties at fault, but it also assists the injured consumer recover compensation for the injuries and losses suffered.