When is a seller liable in West Virginia?

| Mar 5, 2021 | Product Liability |

People who have been injured by a product may decide to bring product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer or maker of the product. Typically, the user of the product sues because the product failed to work as expected and caused harm. Sometimes, a seller may be liable for damages separate from the manufacturer.

An innocent seller is not liable for injuries to a person who bought one of their products. West Virginia Code 55-7-31 explains what makes a seller liable for a defective or otherwise harmful product.

What makes a seller liable under the law?

Generally, a person cannot sue the seller of a product simply because the product causes harm. However, there is a set of exemptions in which the court can hold the seller liable. These include if the seller:

  • Knew in advance about the defect that hurt the customer
  • Controlled several stages of designing, manufacturing or packaging the product
  • Installed or modified the product without the maker’s permission
  • Promised a warranty that caused harm
  • Lacked normal care when assembling, maintaining, storing, transporting or repairing the product
  • Owned or controlled the maker
  • Repackaged the product to hide the identity of the maker

If the maker is unidentifiable, not covered by the state’s laws or has no money, or if the court could not make the manufacturer follow the court’s judgement, then the seller might be liable. You may want to talk to an attorney if a seller’s actions hurt you.

Important considerations

Unless the seller interacts substantially with the product before sale, the seller is not typically liable in product liability cases. Exceptions are for the seller knowing about the defect or changing the product, or if the court cannot find the maker, so you may want to ask an attorney if this applies in your case.