If a defective product injures you, you might wonder if the product was subject to a recall. Suppose you search for a recall and discover the product was, in fact, recalled. If so, the recall could be used as evidence in a product liability claim, though it doesn’t automatically prove liability for damages.
How Does a Product Recall Work in the United States?
Manufacturers recall products for many reasons, including reports of adverse events. They might voluntarily recall a product or initiate a recall after prompting by a federal agency. Federal agencies that recall products include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A notice is sent to sellers and distributors to immediately remove the product from the market. Recalls may be published online, provided to the media, and listed on various government websites. In some cases, recall notices might be sent to known customers.
The recall notice identifies the product by make, model, and lot number. The notice might also explain the dangers the product poses and any known adverse events. Finally, the recall provides information about what the consumer should do, such as return the product or throw the product away.
Does a Recall Automatically Make a Manufacturer Liable?
Some state laws might allow recalls to be entered into evidence in a product liability case. Other states have laws that make recall notices inadmissible as evidence. In either case, the recall itself does not create liability for damages caused by a defective product.
On the other hand, the recall does not automatically relieve the manufacturer from liability. The manufacturer might use the recall as a defense to product liability claims by proving the injured party received a recall notice and continued using the product. However, if a person is injured because of a defective product, a broadly issued recall does not absolve the manufacturer of liability.
Instead, the plaintiff must prove the elements of a product liability claim.
What Are the Legal Elements of a Product Liability Claim?
Product liability is the legal doctrine that holds a party liable for damages caused by a defective product. A product liability claim might be based on negligence, but many product liability cases are based on strict liability. That means the manufacturer and other parties can be liable for damages regardless of whether they intended to create a defective product or knew it was defective.
Generally, you must prove the following legal elements of a product liability lawsuit to win:
- The product had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous;
- You used the product in a manner that a reasonable person would have used the product;
- The defect was the proximate and direct cause of your injury; and,
- You sustained damages because of the defect.
Investigating and gathering evidence to prove your personal injury case can be challenging. Product liability claims are incredibly complex personal injury cases. It is best to consult an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible after a defective product causes an injury.
Damages You Can Receive for Injuries Caused by Defective Products
Generally, recalls do not have a substantial impact on product liability claims. If you prove the legal elements of a product liability case, you could receive compensation for your:
- Past and future medical bills
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future lost wages
- Disabilities and impairments
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- A decrease in earning capacity
The value of your product liability claim depends on several factors. The severity of your injury and whether you could be partially to blame for your injury are two factors used to value damages.
What Should I Do if a Product Has Been Recalled?
Read the entire recall notice carefully to determine the dangers associated with the product. Secure the product safely and contact a product liability lawyer immediately. The attorney can advise you if you need to return, dispose of, or preserve the product.