Determining Who To Sue In Defective Product Claims

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The Sacramento Kings professional basketball team is suing over an exercise ball that burst and injured one of their players.  Francisco Garcia broke his wrist when the ball burst while he was laying on it lifting weights.  The lawsuit seeks $4 million from the manufacturer of the ball, a distributor, and a retailer.

If a defective product injures you, one thing you will need to figure out is who to sue for your injuries.  It’s not always easy to ascertain which companies might face liability for your injuries, but it is important to figure that out in order to maximize your recovery.

Under product liability law, an injured person can sue all entities that were involved in the chain of distribution of the defective product.  This is the path the product takes from manufacture through distribution to customers.  It’s important to realize that you don’t have to pick just one defendant to sue.  Instead, you should try to include as many companies that were involved in the chain of distribution as possible. Here are some entities that can be held liable:

  • Product manufacturer. If the defective product is part of a bigger product, include both the manufacturer of the entire product and the smaller part.  Also, include other parties who had a part in the manufacture, such as consultants or outside contractors.  Further, if a failure to warn claim is part of your case, you should also sue any technical experts that helped write the instructions for the product.
  • Product retailer. The store where you bought the product can be liable for selling you a defective product.  You can still sue the retailer who sold the product, even if you weren’t the actual buyer of the product (for example, if you borrowed the product from a friend) or even if it wasn’t you using the product when you were injured by it (for example if a product exploded that someone next to you was using).
  • Product wholesaler or distributor. Because these “middlemen” are in the space between the manufacturer and retailer, they are in the chain of distribution and are potentially liable.

Posted in Personal Injury | Tagged defective products, manufacturer, products liability