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Who can be held liable for injury from a defective product?

When consumers purchase a product, they reasonably expect it to be safe for the purpose for which it was designed. The government has an interest in keeping consumers safe, as well as in helping consumers to feel confident about their purchases. If consumers are injured by a product that is defective, Kentucky and federal laws provide that they can pursue compensation for their damages through a product liability lawsuit.

Under product liability laws, the parties that can be held liable for damages caused by defective products can be almost anyone responsible for putting the product into the stream of commerce. This includes the manufacturer, a manufacturer of parts in the product, an assembler of the product, the wholesaler and the retailer. In most cases, someone who resells a used product at a yard sale would not be held to the same degree of liability.

It’s important to note that product liability law recognizes three types of defects that can lead to injury: defects in design; defects in manufacturing; and defects in marketing. A defective design can make a product inherently unsafe. A defect in manufacturing can make an unsafe product from an otherwise good design. Marketing defects can include problems such as inadequate safety warnings that lead to unreasonable risks of injury. Each of these types of defects can lead to injury, and raises its own set of liability issues.

In our global economy, many parties have their hands in products before they reach the consumer. A U.S. company might be responsible for the design, while the manufacturing is done overseas. Other companies might handle the product’s marketing materials, and various distributors and retailers may bring the finished product to market. This winding stream of commerce can make product liability issues more complex, but it also helps consumers pursue compensation because any party along the stream can be held liable.

Product liability cases can be legally complicated and technically difficult. People who have been injured by a defective product should seek out help from an experienced attorney.