Who Is Responsible for Injuries Due to Malfunctioning Products?


It is no wonder that consumers are afraid to buy almost anything in stores anymore because there have been so many reports of products malfunctioning, resulting in serious injuries up to and including death. Unfortunately, most people don’t know where to turn or who is ultimately responsible for making reparation for malfunctioning products so they simply go after the manufacturer. While that is one course of action, there are others who can be held accountable as well.

CPSC on the Duty to Report – What to Report

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a branch of the United States government, there is actually a chain of those who have a duty to report any products that meet certain criteria. If a product:

  • Could result in a significant risk of injury
  • Fails to comply with codes and rules of the CPSC
  • Creates a risk that is considered to be unreasonable
  • Results in the injury or death of a child, regardless of that child’s age
  • Results in specified types of lawsuits

That product must be reported to the CPSC by law. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences for anyone who has the responsibility to file a report.

One example would be the riding mower Raptor SD recall that was issued in 2014. This rider mower had the potential to cause serious harm to the rider/driver because of a malfunction in the seat switch. The seat is intended to turn off the mower if the rider leaves the seat but this was found to be defective, leaving the mower on. This has the potential to cause serious injury to the rider when he/she was off the mower. Being left on, it could literally mow down the operator if they inadvertently stepped in front of a mower that could go at any moment.

CPSC on Who Has the Duty to Report

Now then, getting to the crux of the matter, who do you report in an instance like that? Who has the duty to report any malfunctioning products like that rider mower? Public safety is always the primary concern, so according to the CPSC, any:

  • Importer
  • Manufacturer
  • Retailer
  • Distributor

Of products for consumers has a legal obligation to report any of the above stated reasons why a product should be reported.

As an example, let’s look at the Raptor SD. A lawn and garden shop might sell a rider mower to a customer who goes home and begins to mow their lawn. The manual and all advertising says the mower shuts itself off and fails to operate if the rider leaves the seat for any reason. Hypothetically, a rider gets off to move a branch in his way and the mower lurches forward causing serious injury to that rider’s leg.

The consumer takes the mower back to the store, after medical attention of course, and demands a refund. The store refunds the money. Now then, the store (retailer) has been apprised of the situation and now has the legal responsibility to inform the CPSC. But the buck doesn’t stop there!

The retailer tells the distributor that they want to send back all Raptor SDs because they are defective. Now the distributor also has the legal obligation to file a report because they have been made aware of a malfunction resulting in concern for the safety of the consumer. Then, the distributor notifies the manufacturer of the situation, refusing to distribute any more of this brand and model of riding mower. Now it is also the manufacturer’s responsibility to file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and also to alert the general public.

What to Do If You Have Been Injured

If you have been injured by a malfunctioning product, as the consumer you have the right to sue for compensation. Your first line of action should be to hire an attorney who will then look into the matter for you. After that, you need to decide who to name in the suit.

Your attorney can help you compile a list of those you wish to bring a suit against which could include any and all of the above parties. It will take time, effort and solid investigation to ascertain who knew what and when, but if it can be proven that they were privy to the information prior to your injuries, you would have a fairly solid claim.

In fact, they may not even need to be informed to be held accountable in some instances. The bottom line is that you should always seek a winning personal injury attorney if you have been injured by a malfunctioning consumer product. Get the just compensation you deserve.


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