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Can an eCommerce Shop Be Held Liable for a Defective Product In Florida?

If you have filed a product liability claim in Florida, you probably already know how complicated this type of personal injury case can be.

Florida law states that several entities can be held liable when a product has been defectively designed, manufactured, or has a labeling defect.
These possibly liable entities include the manufacturer and anyone else involved in the product’s design, manufacturing, or sale.
So, what does this mean for an eCommerce shop?

The Chain of Commerce

As many Florida product liability attorneys can probably tell you, the chain of commerce in the US is growing and has raised the number of injury cases there have been in recent years some of them holding eCommerce stores like Amazon liable.

However, things can get a bit more complicated than brick-and-mortar retail stores when it comes to eCommerce.

Florida Product Liability Law

Under Florida product liability laws, a consumer can hold a supplier, designer, distributor, and manufacturer liable for any injuries caused by their products. Product liability focuses on the product, while negligence focuses on the actions of the manufacturer, seller, or distributor.

Before 2019, courts around the US insisted that eCommerce stores could not be held liable for injuries caused by products sold on their platforms. Instead, eCommerce stores were viewed as more of a facilitator of a third-party transactions involving the products.

eCommerce of the Past vs Now

Since consumers have always held the supply chain, including sellers, liable for injuries due to defective products, there has now been a question of how liable an eCommerce store can be because this was not addressed in the past.

However, recent developments have expanded what applies to this and eCommerce. The courts are now focusing their attention on the products being purchased, the consumer’s reliance on the eCommerce platform, and the profits generated by the platform.

In the last couple of years, some courts have ruled that eCommerce stores can, in fact, be held liable for defective products they sell.

What Should Online Marketplaces Know?

While the laws vary from state to state and nothing is fairly consistent, eCommerce stores should assume that any litigation due to a defective product sold on their platform could make them liable.

Liability and Warranty Claim Protection

eCommerce sellers should always clearly outline and define the product warranty and any potential side effects there may be when using the product, or they can open themselves up for liability.

Even eCommerce owners are responsible for doing their due diligence to provide a safe product and true representation of the product they are advertising for sale. If there is an issue, then an eCommerce owner needs to make sure they give a fair warning to consumers about any potential hazards, or they can be held liable.

Provide Clear Return Policies

There are currently no federal laws that govern an eCommerce store’s return and refund policies. However, it is smart to come up with clear return policies before making the first sale. If an item is deemed defective, eCommerce stores are required by federal law to accept the product as a return.

According to 2020 Florida Statutes, customers also have the right to return products purchased within seven business days for a full refund. So, before you draft your return and refund policy, be sure to review current state requirements.

If you have any questions about defective products as an eCommerce owner, don’t hesitate to discuss this with a qualified personal injury attorney.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Can an eCommerce Shop Be Held Liable for a Defective Product In Florida?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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