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Potential Defendants in Product Liability Cases

Thursday, May 03, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

Unlike personal injury claims which are based on negligence, claims for product liability in California typically rely on the theory of strict liability. Strict liability does not require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent through his conduct (although aspects of negligence law have been applied in product liability law in some cases).

If you’ve been injured by a defective product, knowing which parties to sue is an essential aspect of your litigation. This is not always a simple task. Injuries or deaths that result from using a certain product may have a multitude of potentially liable parties including manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and others. It is important to be over-inclusive when naming defendants since defendants can be held joint and severally liable. Thus, if one defendant does not pay his share for some reason, the co-defendants must satisfy the claim.

Every party in a product’s “chain of distribution” may bear some responsibility for an injury caused by a defective product. This chain refers to all parties involved in a product’s journey from the manufacturer to the consumer. Whether that role was minimal or significant, every party who participated in marketing and selling the product is regarded as a player in the chain of distribution.

Manufacturers. Manufacturers are obviously the starting point in a product’s development. But a single product can have various parts and several different manufacturers. For example, a home appliance may have different manufacturers for its various components, including electrical, glass and plastic parts. The plaintiff can bring an action against all the manufacturers who supplied any part of the product. The potential defendants include the manufacturer of the whole product in addition to any manufacturer who contributed a defective part to the design of the product.

Wholesalers/Distributors. Wholesalers and distributors can also be liable for injuries arising from products that they handled. This is especially the case if a distributor is responsible for storing or transferring goods in a manner that may have contributed to the plaintiff’s injury.

Retailers. Retailers are the last point in the distribution chain before the product is in the hands of the consumer. The injured party need not be the actual purchaser in order to bring an action against the retailer. For example, if a friend purchased a product for you and that product had a flaw in its manufacturing, you may still sue the retailer. Similarly, if the plaintiff is injured by a product that he did not purchase and did not use, he may still bring an action against the retailer and other parties. This may apply where the defective product was primarily used by another party, but the plaintiff was in the vicinity and was accidentally injured by the product.

If you or a member of your family suffered injury or death as a result of negligence or a defective automobile, contact the attorneys Alexander Law Group, LLP. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will answer your questions and get you the maximum compensation that is possible. Call 888.777.1776 or contact us online.

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