Is the department store, or product manufacturer liable for my injury?

by Petria
(Richmond, VA)

I broke my finger in a national chain department store. It happened when an associate turned on a piece of equipment for me to see if it worked. The store says they are not responsible, and that the manufacturer of the product is. This happened in Richmond, VA.

Is the department store responsible because the injury happened in their store, or is the manufacturer responsible because the product is actually what caused my injury? How do I figure this out? And what do I do afterwards? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is the department store, or product manufacturer liable for my injury?":

Petria (Richmond, VA):

As long as you didn't contribute to your injury by acting improperly, or otherwise negligently handling the machine, the store should be liable. The store had a legal duty of care to protect it's customers from undue harm or injury.

Absent contributory negligence, they failed in that duty. As a result, have a legitimate personal injury claim against the store owner.

Additionally, if the machine was defective, and such defect was responsible for your injury, you may have an additional and separate injury claim against the manufacturer of the machine. This is referred to as a Product Liability Claim, or Defective Product Claim.

To pursue a product liability claim will require legal representation. You, or any other lay person is just not qualified to pursue such a claim. These cases are normally very complex. For a manufacturer to admit their product is defective is an invitation to people all over the country to file similar claims.

Unfortunately, in light of the nature of your injury, it's unlikely you will find an attorney to represent you in a claim against the manufacturer. There's just not enough potential money in the claim for an attorney to justify engaging in complex litigation.

You might though, find a personal injury attorney to pursue your claim against the store owner. That type of claim is likely to be settled by the store's insurance company. If you don't want to retain an attorney you can also pursue a small claims action against the store owner.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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