It can be unnerving to realize that you’ve purchased a product that is currently the subject of a recall. Most of the time, when consumers are alerted to a recall, they either throw the offending product away, obtain any available “fix” from the manufacturer of the product, or exchange the product for a refund or replacement. However, a recall is seldom issued unless the offending product that is the subject of the recall has already caused someone harm. If the company notices that there is something wrong with the product before it ships, the offending design is corrected or the tainted/broken batch of the product in question is thrown out, fixed, etc. By the time a recall is announced, chances are high that consumers have been harmed by the batches of products already circulating in the marketplace.
Recalls are expensive and can hurt a company’s brand. As a result, many companies refrain from recalling products until the risk that consumers will hold them accountable for the harm they’re suffering outweighs the immediate and long-term costs of initiating a recall. Therefore, if you’ve realized that you’ve been harmed by a product that has been recalled (or if you’ve been hurt by a product that has yet to be recalled), chances are that you are not alone in your suffering. Chances are that others are have been harmed or are being harmed by the same product.
When Consumer Products Cause Harm
It’s important to understand that you almost certainly have options for legal recourse in the event that you’ve been harmed by a dangerous or defective product. The major exceptions to this rule involve the inherent dangers in some products. If you purchase a dangerous product – say, it’s a chainsaw – the product should come with warnings as to its inherent dangers. If you use the product in a way it was not intended to be used (sawing a fire extinguisher in half just to “see what happens”) or the product causes you injury but was in no way functioning in a defective way (you dropped the chainsaw on your foot) you won’t be able to hold the manufacturer accountable for the harm you’ve suffered. If however, you were using a product in the ways it was designed to function and were harmed because the product was defective or the inherent dangers of the product were not made clear at the time of purchase, you may be able to hold the manufacturers of the dangerous or defective product accountable with the assistance of an attorney.
Notifying Authorities if You’ve Been Hurt or Made Ill by a Consumer Product
If you’ve suffered harm as a result of a product’s defects, you’ll want to report the harm you’ve suffered to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This government agency’s website describes its mission as follows – “CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction.” Alerting the CPSC to the harm you’ve suffered may inspire the agency to initiate a recall action for the offending product, if one has yet to be recalled. If the offending product has been recalled, alerting the CPSC to your harm will help them accurately track how many people have been affected by the offending product’s defects. Sometimes, understanding just how much harm a product has caused leads to the initiation of class action lawsuits.
Do Consumers Have a Right to Safety?
Generally speaking, individuals can hold others accountable under the law when those others (be they individuals, business, municipalities, professionals, etc.) breach a “duty of care” which is owed to those who have been harmed. The harm caused must have directly resulted from the breach in question. In a product defect case, it is the manufacturer that owes consumers a specific duty of care. Essentially, under numerous state and federal laws, manufacturers of consumer products, medications, etc. are required to produce products that can be used safely for their intended purposes. If there is a risk of harm associated with the product (often, even if that risk of harm has nothing to do with the product’s intended use) consumers must be reasonably alerted to those risks at the time of purchase unless certain exceptions to that rule apply.
Essentially, for you to have grounds for a product defect suit, you must have either been harmed directly as a result of a product’s defects (it was harmful because it wasn’t functioning as it should have) or because the dangers of that product weren’t clearly communicated (a manufacturer didn’t label a small toy as a choking hazard and your toddler was hurt when they tried to swallow it). There are exceptions to these general rules, so it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about the specifics of your situation before assuming that you either do or don’t have strong grounds for legal action.
How Long Do Consumers Have to Explore Their Legal Options?
If you’ve been harmed by a consumer product, work equipment, medical device, or medication, you’ll want to explore your legal options with the assistance of an attorney as soon as you possibly can. The law only grants injury victims of defective and dangerous products so long to file action before they are barred from doing so by something called a statute of limitations. Even if you’re unsure of whether you want to pursue legal action, it’s a good idea to schedule a risk-free consultation so that you can make an informed decision about your options after receiving a case evaluation.
Free Consultations Are Available
If you haven’t yet scheduled a strings-free, no-cost, confidential consultation with our firm, please do so today. Chances are that you’re not the only person who has been harmed by a specific, offending product. Exploring your options now will not only help you make an informed decision about taking legal action, it may help to spare others from experiencing the kind of harm you’ve suffered. Please call now; it would be our honor to assist you at this time.