Each year, thousands of faulty, malfunctioning, and dangerous products are recalled by manufacturers. In 2018 alone, Hewlett-Packard recalled 50,000 laptop batteries that posed a danger of fire, Ford recalled 1.4 million vehicles due to faulty steering wheels, and Kidde recalled nearly 500,000 smoke alarms that did not properly detect fires. Although product recalls are common, many people are unsure of what to do if a product they use is recalled. Below, you’ll learn the steps to take after a recall and find out when you should consult with a lawyer.
Reasons for Recalls
Food, drugs, vehicles, cosmetics, electronics, and toys are just some of the many products that are commonly recalled in the U.S. Recalls are issued for a variety of reasons, usually after a manufacturer discovers that a product poses health or safety risks to consumers. Sometimes a product is recalled because it has caused personal injuries or deaths. Other times, a recall is issued when a design or manufacturing flaw causes the product to malfunction or function improperly, thus creating the potential for serious injuries.
During a product recall, the manufacturer requests that the product be removed from sales shelves. This is often an attempt to avoid product safety law violations and reduce the possibility that legal action will be taken against them for injuries the product has caused.
Steps to Take After a Recall
If a product you are using is recalled, your first priority should always be your safety. Stop using any product that poses dangers to you or others in your household. If you have been injured by a recalled product such as a lithium-ion battery, faulty seatbelt or airbag, or other product, seek medical attention immediately.
Your next step is to carefully read the recall notice issued by the manufacturer where you’ll find specific instructions for what to do. Manufacturers mail or email notices to consumers or contact them by telephone if they have their contact information, but they also make the recall notice public on the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission website and share it with local media outlets. If you have heard about a recall but haven’t received an official notice, you can search for the recall at the CPSC website.
In the notice, the recall will be clearly explained along with recommended actions you should take. You may, for example, be advised to secure the product, return it to the store of manufacturer, have necessary repairs or updates completed, or take other actions to ensure your safety. Keep in mind that sometimes recalls are only applicable to certain segments of the population, and that the product may not be unsafe for you.
If you have been injured by the product, keep it in a safe place. This way, if you decide to take legal action, you can provide the product to your lawyer as evidence. If the item is perishable, make sure to save the receipt and packaging as it may be important to your case.
When to Contact an Attorney
Once you have taken care of your own safety, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options. Although product recalls often reduce the liability of the manufacturer, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries and other losses.
Even if you have not been injured, if the manufacturer has failed to take appropriate precautions to prevent injury, or failed to contact you personally regarding the recall, you may have a claim.
During your initial consultation, a lawyer will ask you how you were impacted by the recall and advise you as to the best course of legal action, including what kinds of claims you may be able to make in court. Common claims that are available to recall victims include failure to warn, design defects, manufacturing defects, and more.
Because these cases can be incredibly complicated, it is best to discuss your rights with an experienced product liability attorney. If you have questions or are in need of legal help after a recall or an injury resulting from a product, contact our team.
If you’re concerned that you might have a faulty product, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission list of recalled products to see if you’re eligible for a replacement or damage recovery.