If a China-based company is selling an electronic device to US customers and the terms of use state that it can’t be held responsible for any harm caused by the device, can this company be sued?

The device is used on the body; it is sold though a website. Does the purchase of the device mean I had accepted their terms of use?

Asked on November 16, 2012 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) A liability waiver like the one you describe will protect them from liability IF the device is correctly manufactured and designed and the instructions for use are correct, but you misuse it in some fashion or it is damaged after delivery to you. However, a company cannot protect themself from product liability for dangerous or improper manufacture, design, or instructions.

2) However, if the company is based in China, even if you had a viable legal claim against them, you might have no recourse--suing a foreign company and collecting money from them, especially a Chinese company (since Chinese law, their legal system, and their government are all slanted in favor of their businesses and citizens) can be very expensive and difficult.

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