Product recalls are instituted by manufacturers voluntarily or may be mandatory at the behest of government agencies concerned about product safety. Recalls mean something has gone wrong with the product and there is some risk of use to consumers. Consumers should stay alert for recall notices and should stop using dangerous or defective products. If a product is used that is defective and the consumer is harmed as a result, a personal injury claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or other responsible parties can allow the injured victim to recover financial compensation.
Types of Product Recalls
Life Hacker summarized three primary kinds of product recalls which may occur in the United States. The three different kinds of product recalls include:
- Recalls of food and drug products, including virtually all products that can be ingested except for shellfish and alcohol.
- Recalls of vehicle-related products, including cars, tires, car seats, airbags, and other car parts.
- Recalls of all other product types including toys, clothing, electronics and other kinds of consumer goods not covered by the other two categories.
There are different federal agencies responsible for different kinds of product recalls. For example, food and drug recalls are typically overseen by either or both the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and/or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vehicle-related recalls are overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Consumer Product Safety Commission handles all other recalls.
The effect of a recall will vary based on the type of recall, and the extent of danger presented by the product. In many vehicle recall cases, consumers will be told to take their vehicles to a dealer for a free repair of the defective part.
In food and drug recall cases, the recall is classified into one of three different classes denoting the severity of the risk. A Class I recall means the product presents a risk of permanent injury or fatalities. A Class II recall means the product is dangerous and could be physically harmful but the problems caused by the product are likely to be temporary or curable. A Class III recall means the product has violated some rule or regulation or has not been properly labeled, but does not present a substantial safety or health danger.
Consumers alerted to a recall should stop using the product until the defect is corrected. If consumers are not notified of the recall until after an injury has been sustained, the consumer should consider pursuing legal action. Evidence of the recall may sometimes be presented as part of the case against the manufacturer but will not be conclusive evidence of manufacturer liability and a plaintiff still must prove the legal elements of a product defect personal injury claim.
Class actions and multi district litigations are frequently triggered by news of a recall as hundreds or thousands who are affected by the defective product may all file lawsuits. Consumers need to make an informed choice about whether to join mass tort litigation.