How A Recall Affects Product Liability Claim

Link to article ( Copyright Eichen, Crutchlow, Zaslow & McElroy, LLP

Great article by Eichen, Crutchlow, Zaslow & McElroy, LLP

These days, it is almost impossible turn on the television or go online without seeing news about another product safety recall. The number of safety recalls involving unsafe toys, contaminated food products, auto defects, and dangerous drugs have surged in recent years – with no end in site.

Some recalls are a voluntary and preventative measure, while others are forced upon companies by regulatory agencies after they have received numerous consumer complaints. Examples of government agencies that might be involved in a recall include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Manufacturers, distributers, and retailers have a responsibility to ensure their products are safe for consumers. Companies also have a duty toward their stakeholders to protect their brand’s image. If there is reason to believe that a manufacturing defect, design flaw, or other safety issue could cause harm to one or more of its customers, the company needs to act quickly to prevent future harm to consumers.

Individuals harmed by a product can file a product liability lawsuit against the item’s manufacturer, distributer, or seller. Claims may be based on a manufacturing defect, a defective design that makes the product inherently dangerous, or a failure to warn consumers of potential risks involving the product. Victims may be able to recover financial compensation for current and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Occasionally, a group of victims joins together to file a class action lawsuit against the maker or seller of the dangerous or defective product. Class actions may be the most efficient option for large groups of people who have suffered similar experiences with the same product. Class action lawsuits are not usually recommended for individuals who have sustained severe physical injuries or extraordinary financial losses. Before deciding whether to file an individual lawsuit or become part of a large class action, injured victims should consult a reputable product liability lawyer in New Jersey with experience handling both individual and class action product liability cases.

Products are recalled whenever there is a substantial risk of harm to consumers. That being said, evidence that a product was recalled over safety issues does not automatically make a manufacturer liable if someone is hurt. In fact, some courts will not allow evidence of a recall to be admitted in a case on account that jurors might be unfairly influenced by the information. Instead, a successful product liability claim depends wholly on the plaintiff’s (or plaintiffs’) ability to prove: a) the defendant was negligent in its duty to ensure the product’s safety; b) that breach of duty was the direct cause of harm; and c) the individual suffered actual damages.

However, a recall also does not absolve a company of legal responsibility towards customers. The manufacturer must show that the recall notice provided a clear and adequate warning of all of the dangers associated with the product. After that, the company is required to prove that the injured person actually received the notice. Passing the blame to the product’s retailer for not notifying the consumer is not a valid defense.