Today, manufacturers are filling the shelves with newly invented products faster than ever. You can’t count on the retailers to check the safety of the products they sell; they’re just in business to make money. Due to poor oversight, products are being recalled for safety defects at an alarming rate.
As of March 2017, in a timespan of just twelve months, there were 5,095 product recalls. Among those numbers, products for the home accounted for 1,541 recalls while products for children (not including toys) accounted for 1,267. Toys and sports/recreation products accounted for 889 and 846 recalls, respectively.
Over five thousand products being recalled in just one year points to a serious problem. Not only are consumers being put at risk due to the negligence of companies to thoroughly test their products, but not everyone who buys the product will get the notice.
Retailers like Target and Walmart are required by law to report and post recall notices for products they sell in an area where customers can clearly see them. Both retail giants post their recall notices next to guest services, where people make their returns and exchanges. This only helps customers who go out of their way to read the recall board, and it can change from one day to the next.
While manufacturers generally inform customers of a recall, if you made the purchase anonymously without registering your purchase, the manufacturer won’t have any way to contact you. Therefore, many people find out about recalls the hard way.
If you’ve purchased a defective product, whether you’ve been injured or not, here’s what you can do to get resolution for yourself and others:
1. Document everything regarding your experience
When you purchased the product, what were you doing when you discovered the defect? Document everything from opening the box, to plugging it in (if it’s electrical) and turning it on. Be as detailed as possible, especially if you were injured. If you end up in a lawsuit against the manufacturer, the judge will want to make sure your injury wasn’t due to your own negligence.
2. File a lawsuit against all responsible parties
If you have been injured by a dangerous product, it’s not just the manufacturer that’s liable. Anyone involved in the supply chain can be held responsible, even the retailer. Though, you’ll need a personal injury lawyer to hold them responsible in court. If you try to do it alone, you’ll be facing an uphill battle. You’ll also have an impossible time identifying all the responsible parties.
Experts from the Sawaya Law Firm explain, “If someone gets hurt due to a dangerous product, the companies responsible for designing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing the product may be held responsible for paying compensation in a products liability lawsuit. These claims are often very difficult and hotly defended by the companies responsible for the dangerous product.”
The reason you want to name as many potential defendants as possible is because of what’s called “joint and several” liability. This means each defendant is jointly and individually responsible for the entire amount of damages awarded. If one defendant can’t pay their share, the others must pick up the tab.
3. Get medical treatment
If you’ve been injured, get medical treatment immediately. Even if you received a minor cut or burn, see a doctor as soon as possible. Even what appears to be a minor injury should be documented in case it gets worse.
4. Re-read the warning labels
Every product comes with a warning label required by law, even if it’s obvious to most people. For example, a hairdryer comes with a warning not to use it near water. Most people wouldn’t jump in the shower to use their hairdryer, but there are some people who might not understand the danger.
Read all the warning labels that came with the product to verify you didn’t ignore important safety precautions.
Warning labels don’t protect a company from lawsuits. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are reasonably safe. Slapping a warning label on an unsafe product doesn’t remove liability.
However, if you were injured because you ignored basic warnings, your case might be thrown out due to your own negligence.
Research products before you buy them
Class action suits are frequently filed against retailers for selling defective products that cause injury. They usually settle out of court to avoid excessive legal fees. Still, retailers don’t have time to verify the safety of the products they sell. It’s up to you to research the safety of (and recalls for) the products you buy.