When a Seller Is Liable in an Injury Case

Illinois’ product liability law allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit against anyone involved in the distribution chain of the product that caused your injury. This can include the manufacturer of the product, the seller, and anyone who handled the product in between. The manufacturer ends up being the sole defendant in many cases. Illinois has a law, commonly called the seller’s exception, that instructs the courts to dismiss defendants that are not manufacturers of the product. However, there are exceptions to the seller’s exception that permit you to include non-manufacturer defendants in your lawsuit.

Nature of Involvement

The principle behind the seller’s exception is that other parties in the distribution chain do not need to be held liable for the manufacturer’s negligence. The law states that the court shall dismiss the non-manufacturer defendants from the lawsuit once the plaintiff has filed a complaint against the manufacturer. The seller must do its due diligence by providing the identity of the manufacturer, and the plaintiff must do his or her due diligence by including the manufacturer in the lawsuit if appropriate. However, there are exceptions to this order to dismiss if the seller:

  • Was involved in the design or manufacturing of the product;
  • Altered the product in a way that caused it to be dangerous; or
  • Sold the product despite knowing the dangerous defect.

In these situations, the plaintiff can claim that the seller was liable for the product’s safety or negligent in protecting its customers.

Manufacturer Unavailable

The plaintiff can petition to reinstate the seller as a defendant if he or she cannot collect damages from the manufacturer for reasons such as:

  • The manufacturer no longer exists;
  • The manufacturer is not capable of paying the damages;
  • The court does not have jurisdiction over the manufacturer; or
  • The manufacturer will not comply with the court’s order to appear for the trial.

The manufacturer may be going through bankruptcy or out of business, leaving it without the money to pay the damages. If the manufacturer is based in another country, it may choose to ignore the court’s authority. Illinois lawmakers did not intend for plaintiffs to lose their ability to receive personal injury compensation in these situations. So, a seller may be liable for a faulty product when the manufacturer cannot be held responsible.

Contact a DuPage County Personal Injury Attorney

A malfunctioning or poorly designed product can cause serious or fatal injuries to the person using it. A Wheaton, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Walsh, Knippen & Cetina, Chartered, can help you receive compensation from the parties responsible for your injury. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-462-1980.



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