Are Retailers Liable For Defective Products?

If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury as a result of using or consuming a defective product, then you should be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. However, who can be held liable if a defective product causes an injury or illness? Here, we want to discuss whether or not retailers could be held responsible for defective product claims in Oregon.

What Oregon Law Says About Defective Products

When we examine Oregon’s Product Liability statutes (ORS § 30.900 et seq.), we see that individuals who sustain injuries due to a defective product may be able to hold various parties responsible for the incident. This includes manufacturers, distributors, sellers, or lessors.

In the state of Oregon, defective product claims are considered “strict liability” claims. This is different from how most personal injury cases are handled in Oregon, where a plaintiff has to show that the defendant was negligent. For a strict liability claim, it only has to be shown that:

  • The company engaged in the business of manufacturing, distributing, or selling the product
  • The product was defective or unreasonably dangerous
  • The product was not modified prior to being sold to the plaintiff
  • The plaintiff sustained an injury as a result of the product defect

Will the Retailer Have to Pay Compensation?

When a retailer advertises an item for sale on their shelves, this implies that they (the retailer) are ensuring that the product is safe for use by consumers. Even if the retailer is not responsible for the manufacturing for distribution of the item in question, they could be held responsible for injuries if they sold the product.

In general, we will find that retailers, as opposed to the product manufacturer or designer, will have to pay compensation in the event they sold a product that was known to be defective. This might occur if a retailer chooses to continue to sell a product even after they have received complaints of hazards or after the product has been recalled by the company or received a warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

A retailer could be on the line for paying various types of compensation for a consumer in these circumstances. This includes:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Ongoing doctor or hospital care
  • Surgical care
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Medical devices or prescription medications
  • Last wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Physical pain and suffering damages
  • Emotional and psychological distress

Will You Need a Product Liability Attorney?

Even though defective product claims are considered “strict liability,” it is still crucial to work with a trusted attorney for help with the product liability claim. These cases can become incredibly difficult, particularly when going up against well-funded retailers and their legal teams. An attorney can use their resources to investigate every aspect of the claim, determine whether or not this product has had issues throughout the state or country, and handle negotiations with insurance carriers and companies. Importantly, your Portland defective product lawyer will fully prepare the claim for a civil product liability trial in front of a jury if necessary to ensure that their client is treated fairly throughout the process.