Defective products, such as faulty furniture or contaminated food, are recalled often. The recalls themselves can be voluntary actions taken by product manufacturers or actions urged by official government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
When people are negatively affected by these faulty products, they have a right to file a defective product injury claim, often referred to as a product liability lawsuit.
What is Product Liability?
While the terms “defective product injury claim” or “product liability” may sound like a mouthful, the idea is actually very straightforward and easy to understand. When a person is injured by a product, they become the plaintiff in the lawsuit and can sue either the product’s manufacturer, the retailer where they purchased the product, the distributor, or all three. When suing, the plaintiff can aim to reverse money lost from the event due to missed work, medical care and pain and suffering.
How Do Recalls Fit In?
When a product is identified as being defective, either the FDA, CPSC, or the manufacturer will issue an official recall. This action requires manufacturers to take time and correct the issue, distributors to return or dispose of the product, and the retailer to pull it from shelves. These actions all prevent more people from becoming injured or sick due to the defective product.
Additionally, recall instructions telling consumers how to either repair, replace, or dispose of the product will typically be broadcast throughout news outlets and local government agencies, such as the Florida Health department.
Recalls May or May Not Hold up in Court
Even if the plaintiff is suing for damages incurred from a recalled product, it doesn’t automatically ensure a win for his or her side. Other evidence must be presented that clearly identifies the individual’s specific product as being defective. This evidence is generally composed of photos, evidence of purchase, and witness accounts.
Surprisingly, in some courts, the plaintiff’s side isn’t even allowed to mention if the product was recalled. This is due to the perception that jurors would be automatically persuaded to make their decision in favor of the plaintiff without more direct and substantial evidence.
While suing due to a recalled product doesn’t always secure a win for the plaintiff, it also doesn’t let the manufacturer off easily either. A common misconception made is if a product were recalled, and the plaintiff used it afterward, they are liable for their own injuries. However, this is not always true. In court, the manufacturer must prove that the specific plaintiff personally received ample notice of the recall. For example, if a nationwide recall was broadcast all over the news, but the plaintiff is someone without access to a television, the manufacturer cannot prove they received ample notice.
Additionally, even if the manufacturer loses in a recall case against a plaintiff, they can still successfully sue either the distributor or retailer for providing access to the defective product after the recall was issued.
Real Case Example of a Recall and Product Liability Suit
Right here in Florida, a little over two years ago, the Takata airbag company along with various auto manufacturers were at the receiving end of several product liability lawsuits. The reason: Takata airbags installed in many car models were deemed defective and harmful to the safety of auto owners. Prior to these defective product injury claims, no recalls had yet been issued, but a widespread recall was announced after these lawsuits began to emerge. Several of these cases resulted in a monetary settlement, in favor of the plaintiffs.
If you’ve been injured due to a recalled product and need advice on how to begin the product liability lawsuit process, it’s time to engage with an experienced lawyer. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, our lawyers are highly experienced, compassionate, dedicated, and are proud to serve in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and other communities in Southwest Florida. Contact us today and let’s get started, together!