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Products liability and the chain of distribution

When we hear the word defective, we automatically think negative things. This might be because the term coincides with something not being right. With regards to product, a defect could mean that it doesn't work correctly, doesn't work at all or is dangerous for consumers in Virginia or elsewhere to use. When a product defect occurs, it may not be fully clear how it happened and who is responsible. This is when it comes in handy to look at the products chain of distribution.

When a consumer is injured because of a product deemed defective, it is possible for any party in the chain of distribution to be held liable. This means that the manufacturer of the products as well as its individual components, the assemblers of the product, the wholesaler or the retailer could be held accountable.

In some cases, multiple parties could share responsibility for a defect. This is known as market share liability. This occurs when the injured party cannot identify which company supplied the defective product, making each manufacturer held liable in accordance to its percentage of sales in the area where the injury occurred.

There are three ways a product could be found defective. The first is a design defect, usually caused by the designers of the product. The next is a manufacturing defect, commonly caused by the manufacturer of the product or its component parts. Finally, defects could occur because of marketing defects. This means that there was improper labeling, insufficient instructions or inadequate safety warnings.

When a product defect occurs, a consumer could suffer serious injuries. In these cases, the injured consumers may have legal recourses. A products liability action could help determine the cause of the defect and which parties in the chain of distribution are to blame. It also helps with the pursuit of compensation for losses and damages.

Source: Postcrescent.com, "Product liability: If it is broke, fix it," Reg Wydeven, Oct. 28, 2017

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