Do Product Recalls Always Mean That Consumers Have the Right to File a Lawsuit?
No, not always. Product designers and manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the odds of a consumer being harmed by using their products are minimal if a consumer is using a product correctly. However, sometimes products cause harm that a consumer should not have expected. This may happen because a designer or manufacturer overlooked a flaw or defect.
When such flaws are identified, companies will typically issue product recalls. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires designers, manufacturers, distributors, importers, and retailers of consumer products to file reports with the CPSC when it’s been discovered that:
- A defective product has the potential to seriously injure consumers
- A product may create an unreasonable risk of injury or death
- A product does not comply with any regulation, rule, or law governed by statutes that the CPSC enforces
- A child lost their life or was in serious danger as a result of swallowing a small piece of a toy or similar item
- A lawsuit has arisen relating to a product (in some cases)
Companies may also reference the CPSC’s recall handbook to learn how to properly administer recalls.
In some instances, consumers have the right to seek compensation for their losses if they were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of using a product that has been recalled. They may do so by filing a claim or lawsuit to collect from the insurance of the negligent company.
However, they do not always have this option. The following overview will cover when you can and can’t sue after a product recall.
Did You Know About the Recall?
Certain types of purchases allow consumers to register products with the relevant manufacturer or other such company. This allows the company to send them a notice that a product is being recalled.
In instances when a product is not the type that someone would register with the manufacturer, the company has a duty to spread the information as widely as possible via official announcements, media stories, etc.
For example, a consumer wouldn’t register a purchase from the grocery store. Thus, if the item was part of a batch that was found to be contaminated, the company would have to share information about the recall via the media and similar means.
The consumer is the one technically responsible for disposing of a recalled product. No company representative is going to come and remove it for them. For instance, if food is being recalled due to contamination, the consumer is responsible for throwing it away.
Unfortunately, there are instances when consumers don’t learn of recalls. This often happens when they don’t register their purchases. An example would be someone buying a car from a private seller. The car company might not know this car has a new owner, and therefore could not send the new owner a notice of a car or car part recall.
Were You Injured Before the Recall?
Whether you have grounds to file a lawsuit after being injured using a product that has been recalled depends on when you were injured. You can likely file a lawsuit if you were injured or a loved one was killed before the recall was announced. That said, you’ll have to gather evidence proving that your injuries resulted from using the product. An attorney can help you with this process.
You typically do not have grounds to file a lawsuit in cases when you were injured after a recall was announced. To some degree, this is to guard against fraud.
For example, someone hoping for a big payout might find out a product they own is being recalled. They may therefore intentionally harm themselves to justify filing a lawsuit. They will be unsuccessful if they do so.
However, if the manufacturer did not properly notify consumers of the recall, even consumers injured after the recall may have a valid lawsuit.
That’s the basic explanation of when you can sue a company after a product recall. If you’re still not sure whether you have the right to file a lawsuit, review your case with a product liability attorney. They can let you know whether you should take legal action.