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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    23

    Default Liability for Selling Used Stuff

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: WA

    Retail stores can be liable if they sell defective merchandise, right?

    If I sell stuff on ebay, am I liable if the item cause an injury or damage?

    E.g. I sold a cellphone and the phone caught on fire and cause damage to someone's house

    How about if I sell a chair in a garage sale, then a leg broke and someone fall and got injured?

    I'm assuming the answer is no to the above, because millions of people sell stuff on ebay and garage sale and I never heard of such lawsuits.

    What if, I sell items that I repaired? I imagine I may be liable if I made bad repairs. Is it possible to disclaim liability?

    The reason for asking is because I see on youtube people buying pallets of returned merchandise in liquidation auctions, then test and resell the good ones. I can fix stuff so I can fix the bad ones and sell them too, if I don't have to worry about liability.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    18,021

    Default Re: Liability for Selling Used Stuff

    If I sell stuff on ebay, am I liable if the item cause an injury or damage?
    The general rule is that you would be liable if your negligence caused the injury or damage.

    Now let's look at your examples.

    I sold a cellphone and the phone caught on fire and cause damage to someone's house
    More than likely would be a manufacturing defect and not your responsibility. Exception: You fixed it or modified it improperly and your negligence resulted in the malfunction. Then you could be liable.

    How about if I sell a chair in a garage sale, then a leg broke and someone fall and got injured?
    If you knew or should have known that the leg was defective you could be liable. Otherwise, no.

    What if, I sell items that I repaired? I imagine I may be liable if I made bad repairs.
    Correct.

    Is it possible to disclaim liability?
    Yes, it's possible for you and the buyer to put it in writing, signed by the buyer that you are not responsible for any injury or damage. It isn't likely that a buyer will buy the item if you ask him to do that. Even if he does sign such a waiver, a court is likely to invalidate as being against public policy that requires people to be responsible for their own negligence.

    I see on youtube people buying pallets of returned merchandise in liquidation auctions, then test and resell the good ones.
    The smart ones have liability insurance, the stupid ones don't and risk the possibility of an expensive lawsuit that they could very well lose.

    I can fix stuff so I can fix the bad ones and sell them too, if I don't have to worry about liability.
    Well, you do have to worry about liability. If you are going to do it, buy the proper liability insurance or take your chances on getting sued if something goes wrong.

    In my 35 year career in the insurance industry I have seen tons of people who thought it would never happen to them, and then it did.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    2,447

    Default Re: Liability for Selling Used Stuff

    Quote Quoting evident
    View Post
    Retail stores can be liable if they sell defective merchandise, right?
    In the abstract, and without any facts whatsoever, yes, this is possible.


    Quote Quoting evident
    View Post
    If I sell stuff on ebay, am I liable if the item cause an injury or damage?
    Depends on the relevant facts.


    Quote Quoting evident
    View Post
    E.g. I sold a cellphone and the phone caught on fire and cause damage to someone's house
    Whether you'd have any potential liability would depend on the content of the ad and any communications you had with the buyer, why the phone caught on fire, and whether you were or should have been aware of whatever was wrong with the phone.


    Quote Quoting evident
    View Post
    How about if I sell a chair in a garage sale, then a leg broke and someone fall and got injured?
    Same answer as with the prior example.


    Quote Quoting evident
    View Post
    I'm assuming the answer is no to the above, because millions of people sell stuff on ebay and garage sale and I never heard of such lawsuits.
    That you've never heard of any lawsuits is pretty meaningless. How many lawsuits not involving yourself or a family member have you ever heard about?

    As for the rest of your questions, questions based on factually incomplete hypotheticals cannot be fully answered with any degree of certainty.

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