Although there are exceptions, such as Massachusetts car accidents, where victims may seek compensation regardless of whether an accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, typically, you only have a valid personal injury case if your injury was the result of a carelessness on the part of someone else. You must therefore prove whose negligence caused your accident in order to demonstrate that you are eligible for compensation.

Consider the example of product liability cases. Typically, the designers or manufacturers of defective and dangerous products are liable when such products cause injury. Those involved in marketing dangerous products may also be considered negligent if they failed to provide consumers with information regarding the potential risks associated with using their products.

However, you might have been harmed as a result of using a dangerous product you purchased online. If so, an important question arises whether e-commerce shops can also be held liable for selling products that cause injury.

The answer to this question is complicated in part because the laws regarding this issue can vary to some degree from one state to another. This overview will explain how Massachusetts laws address whether you can hold Amazon or another e-commerce shop responsible for causing your injuries if they sold you a dangerous and/or defective product.

There are even instances when merchants might try to avoid liability by arguing that the victim or a third party made alterations to the product that were not suggested by the manufacturer

Dangerous Products, Liability, and E-Commerce Shops: What You Need to Know in Massachusetts

Under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 106, Section 2-314, when a merchant sells goods, “a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kind.”

As it pertains to product safety, in plain language, that means that when someone purchases an item from a merchant, it is implied that the product will be safe to use when used as intended and when used in the same manner as similar products. For example, a chainsaw is a product that inherently has the potential to cause harm. Someone who sold you a chainsaw is not necessarily liable if you were injured when using it because you were careless. However, they may be considered liable if you were injured because they sold you a defective chainsaw, which caused injury.

This essentially means it may be possible to find an e-commerce merchant to be liable if you are harmed when using a product you purchased from such a merchant. That does not mean that proving liability is easy in these circumstances. There are a number of ways merchants could protect themselves against lawsuits seeking compensation.

For example, the merchant might respond that when they received the product from the manufacturer it was sold in its original packaging. Thus, while there may have been a defect, there was no reason for the merchant to think this would be the case. However, in a breach of warranty case, the merchant could still be responsible for placing a defective product in the streams of commerce.

In any product liability claim, it’s also important for a victim to show that they didn’t contribute to their injuries due to their own negligence. A merchant could suggest that you did not use the dangerous product according to the safety instructions, or that you were aware of the defect but nevertheless decided to use the product anyway. Again, in the case of a product that has the potential to cause harm when used carelessly, a victim must also show that they made a genuine attempt to exercise reasonable care when using said product, but were still injured.

There are even instances when merchants might try to avoid liability by arguing that the victim or a third party made alterations to the product that were not suggested by the manufacturer.

None of this is meant to suggest that it is impossible to hold an e-commerce retailer liable if you are injured while using a dangerous or defective product you bought online. It’s meant to highlight the importance of coordinating with legal professionals who can help you build a strong case.

Schedule a free consultation with Swartz & Swartz by calling our offices at (617) 742-1900 or contacting us online to learn more. If you’ve been harmed using a dangerous product and you suspect you have reason to hold the e-commerce merchant from whom you bought the product liable, we will help you pursue the compensation for which you may be eligible.

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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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