Whether someone buys a food product, a vehicle or a tool to use around their home, they expect that it will be generally safe for them to use. For example, those taking supplements expect that they will benefit from the dosage of vitamins and minerals outlined on the label and that the product comes from clean facilities. Those who buy vehicles expect that their investment will provide them with safe transportation. Sadly, not every consumer good functions the way that individuals might expect. Some of them have defective design or defective individual components that put consumers at risk of injury.
Businesses that learn about a defective product they’ve recently released can take actions to protect the public, possibly including a recall. Sometimes, the government orders a recall. Other times, businesses initiate recalls independently because they want to get defective products out of stores and back from consumers to minimize their liability. Recalls can become expensive and may damage a brand’s reputation. But, they can help to minimize liability as well. If a consumer ends up injured or sickened by a product subject to a recall, do they still have any legal rights?
Recalls don’t instantly correct the issue
People often jump to the conclusion that a business won’t be liable for injuries to consumers or damages to their property if the date of an incident involving a defective product falls after the date of a recall. While it may be true that those hurt by a defective product that is currently subject to a recall may have a harder time winning a personal injury lawsuit, they could still very well have legal rights.
A few factors, including their awareness of the recall and the manufacturer’s suggested resolution for the matter, can directly influence what rights consumers have when harmed by defective products. If the manufacturer did not reach out to consumers in a timely manner or failed to properly publicize the recall, consumers may continue using a dangerously defective product without knowing about the risk.
On the other hand, if the recall involves something an individual must use on a regular basis, like a motor vehicle, then the allocation of resources for the recall could also influence lawsuit eligibility. If a company is very slow about providing repairs or replacements, for example, consumers may have few options other than to continue using a potentially dangerous product.
It is often the details of a situation that determine whether an individual or their loved ones may have grounds for a product defect lawsuit when someone gets hurt by a vehicle with a defective hood latch or a contaminated supplement, etc. Discussing how a product caused someone injury with a legal professional can be a good starting point for evaluating whether a product defect lawsuit opportunity is potentially viable.