When Do Products Get Recalled?

In 2015, there were 4,217 product recalls issued. There have been more than 4,000 recalls every year, since 2010.

In most cases, defective products are recalled when the manufacturer is aware of a defect. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t always discover the defect first.

Product defects sometimes lead to product liability lawsuits: legal action against the manufacturer. Product liability claims help victims recover damages for things like medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering.

The personal injury lawyers from Heintz & Becker discuss product recalls and what to do if a product causes injury.

What’s a Product Recall?

Defective products and product recalls aren’t the same thing.  A defective product is the result of an absent or ineffective recall. A product recall is a process instigated by the manufacturer when a product poses a public danger.

Recalls are initiated for public safety and reduce the risk of legal action taken against a manufacturer.

The recall process includes informing the public of the defect and removing the product from sale. Manufactures must also refund, fix, or replace any defective products sold before the recall was initiated.

Who Finds Product Defects?

Once a safety risk has been identified, the recall process starts. But who’s responsible for finding these dangerous defects?

While it’s in the best interest of the manufacturer to avoid defects, there are several government agencies that provide important oversight on consumer products such as The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

These agencies have combined forces to make it easier for the public to get information about product recalls. Recalls.gov is a “one stop shop for U.S. Government recalls.”

There are also local agencies like the Florida Department of Health that keep tabs on dangerous or contaminated foods as well as recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts.

Recalls are usually a voluntary process initiated by the manufacturer. But in many cases, a government agency will discover a defect and encourage the manufacturer to issue an official recall.

Sadly, many product recalls affect small children. Things like sippy cups, strollers, and even furniture have been recalled after devastating losses. In 2016, the number of children’s product recalls increased 12 percent, year over year.

Product Liability in Florida

People injured by a defective product may be eligible for financial compensation.

There are two legal theories Florida courts use to analyze defective products: negligence theory and product liability theory (also known as strict liability theory). The latter is most common.

Viable product liability cases typically include one of three defect categories:

  • Design defects are usually intended by the manufacture, so the defect is inherent to its design. In Florida, we use what’s called the “consumer expectation test” to make this determination.
  • A manufacturing defect occurs when the product becomes defective during manufacturing or supply chain management.
  • Labeling defects typically involve a failure to warn consumers about a potential danger. This is sometimes called a marketing defect.

Moreover, Florida’s statutes of limitations set time parameters for when a victim must file a product liability lawsuit. In Florida, a defective product claim must be filed within four years of the date of injury.  However, there are some exceptions.

It should be noted that product recalls don’t necessarily prove a product manufacturer is liable. Moreover, large product manufacturers have abundant resources to fight off litigation.

If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact a Florida product liability lawyer to discuss your legal options. Some injuries won’t be viable claims. For example, if the victim altered the product after purchase.

Product recalls are a safety net for defective products, but it can’t catch every potential danger. 

The best way to avoid dangerous products is to stay informed. Never purchase a product that’s been recalled and check for updates on reliable recall sites.

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