Amazon has grown rapidly in recent years and now dominates the online retail sector, but consumers in Louisiana and around the country may be surprised to learn that more than half of the products sold on the Seattle-based company’s website are offered by third-party vendors. Some of these products are of dubious quality and have been linked to accidents and injuries, but Amazon has argued in product liability lawsuits that it only provides a selling platform and should not be held responsible.

The legal landscape starts to shift

The results of several recent product liability lawsuits suggest that the legal landscape has started to shift. Consumers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas all prevailed against the online giant, and a California case involving a woman who was seriously burned by a defective lithium battery has prompted lawmakers in the Golden State to draft legislation to extend regulations that apply to brick-and-mortar sales to online transactions.

Amazon supports the proposal

Traditional retailers can be held responsible in California when the products they sell have defects that cause injury, loss or damage. The bill, which was withdrawn by its sponsor on Aug. 28 because the legislative session was about to end, would hold online merchants to the same standard. Amazon has come out in support of the proposed legislation as long as it applies to other online sellers that do not store and ship the products listed on their websites.

Product liability lawsuits

Manufacturers and retailers tend to mount vigorous defenses in product liability cases because a consumer who prevails could encourage others to take legal action. They may also seek to avoid bad publicity by settling these cases quietly at the negotiating table. When advocating on behalf of consumers who have been injured by defective products, personal injury attorneys with experience in these cases may encourage manufacturers or retailers to accept product liability settlement proposals by making non-disclosure agreements part of the deal.