Almost everyone has a story of the time they bought a product online that did not work as it should. Most people merely consider the product a scam. However, if the product caused harm to someone, it may create a brand new issue that courts need to address — but how?
Determining the responsibility for online products may prove difficult. Companies that provide online marketplaces may claim the product does not belong to them, so they are not responsible. Similarly, e-commerce stores that use drop-ship services may blame the manufacturers of the original product. This creates an ongoing trend of passing the blame.
What the law says
According to Inc., the law requires companies making and selling products to ensure the safety of those products. Otherwise, personal injury laws may hold those companies responsible when the products cause harm.
How this affects small businesses
Small businesses make up a large portion of the online market. Product liability can expose these businesses to high levels of risk. Inc. advises these companies to purchase product liability insurance. When companies purchase this type of insurance, it also makes it easier for affected customers to make claims and receive compensation for their injuries.
How it applies to third-party platforms
For a long time, third-party marketplaces escaped responsibility by pointing out that they merely provided the place for independent parties to buy and sell. However, NBC San Diego reports that a landmark case in September held Amazon liable for faulty products.
While the win took place in California, supporters believe it may have ripple effects across the country. Only time will tell how other states intend to handle tort claims against e-commerce stores, particularly internet giants.