The responsibility of companies to ensure that the products they develop are safe for consumers is referred to as products liability. If a product malfunctions, does not function as advertised, or otherwise creates a significant risk of harm to its users, anyone involved in bringing that product to the marketplace may be held liable for resulting injuries.
Often, when we think of the entity responsible for a product's defect, we first think of the product manufacturer. However, designers, engineers, marketers, and retailers may all play a role in allowing a defective or dangerous product into the hands of consumers.
Sometimes, the risks of a particular product quickly become well-known after multiple accidents and injuries associated with its use. In such a situation, a retailer or manufacturer will often issue a voluntary recall of the product. However, to do so results in decreased profits, so often, these companies will delay issuing a recall even when they know that consumers have been injured or killed using their products.
Regardless of whether or not a product has been recalled, anyone injured in using the product may be able to pursue compensation for resulting injuries and losses by filing a product liability lawsuit against negligent manufacturers and distributors.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is the government agency charged with the responsibility to make sure products sold in the United States meet federal safety regulations. If a product fails to meet these guidelines, the CPSC may urge a voluntary recall or may file a federal lawsuit against the company and issue a mandatory recall.
The CPSC also warns consumers about dangerous products and provides public notice of product recalls. The CPSC recall list is posted on the agency's website, and consumers can also sign up for email alerts of all products or by category, such as infant and child products, sports and recreation products, or household products.
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Through the CPSC website at SaferProducts.gov, consumers can search recall information as well as report an unsafe product to the agency.
Filing an incident report is important, because it can help consumers become aware of the risks of a specific product. When the CPSC receives multiple reports regarding a single consumer product, it knows to take action to remove the product from the marketplace and to require manufacturers to address and rectify any safety issues.
For the same reason, it is important for those who have been injured while using a consumer product to file a product liability lawsuit against those whose negligence resulted in the manufacture and sale of a dangerous or defective product. The decision whether or not to recall a product is often a matter of risk assessment and how a recall would affect the company's bottom line.
When a company considers its profits above your safety, holding it financially accountable for your injuries can send a message that negligent manufacturing, fraudulent marketing, and insufficient warnings or instructions will not be tolerated.
The most common types of product liability include design flaws, manufacturing defect, false claims, and inadequate warnings.
Design flaws occur when the product is designed in such a way that it is inherently dangerous. Design flaws may include sport utility vehicles (SUV) or all-terrain vehicles (ATV) that are top-heavy and prone to rollover accidents; hooded jackets, blind cords, and baby monitor cords that are a risk of strangulation; and drop-side cribs (now illegal in the United States) that pose an entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation risk to infants.
Manufacturing defect occurs when a manufacturer makes a mistake in the physical creation of the product. This can include using shoddy materials, a lack of quality control measures, or taking "shortcuts" that result in poor workmanship and a malfunctioning product. Automobiles are some of the most commonly recalled items due to manufacturing defects.
Marketing defects occur when a product comes with insufficient instructions, has inadequate product safety warnings, or makes false claims about the safety or effectiveness of a product. Sometimes, a product may have instructions that are difficult to understand or that are not thorough enough to allow the consumer to safely assemble or use the product.
Other times, packaging may show a product being used in a manner that is unsafe or may indicate that a product can be used in a manner that is inherently dangerous. Finally, a company's failure to warn of the risks associated with use or misuse of a product can lead to significant injury or death. Certain infant seats and sleep positioners have been subject to recall after their marketing materials showed babies sitting in the seats on top of dining tables despite a dangerous fall hazard or sleeping unattended in sleep postitioners despite a risk of suffocation.
According to WeMakeItSafer, a consumer watchdog group, the most commonly recalled product categories are as follows:
Overwhelmingly, products for infants and children are the most frequently recalled. Federal regulations for children's products are continually being revised. Drop-side cribs were banned after numerous deaths. The CPSC issues repeated warnings about cord placement for baby products. Crib standards, flammability standards, car seat safety standards, and more federal regulations are created to keep infants and children safe, yet products continually fail to meet these guidelines or unforeseen risks necessitate further federal intervention.
Often, consumers are unaware of the risks associated with a particular product or type of product, especially when the product has not been recalled and is still widely available for consumer use. Learn more about product safety at the CPSC's safety education website.
Head trauma, asphyxiation, laceration, amputation, burn injuries, poisoning, and eye injuries are but a few of the serious injuries associated with using a defective or dangerous product. Whether your injury is healed in a relatively short period of time or your injury is permanently disabling or disfiguring, you are entitled to compensation from those whose negligence in design, manufacturing, or marketing led to the creation and sale of the dangerous product that hurt you. Call the Law Firm of Oklahoma to speak with a compassionate yet aggressive personal injury lawyer who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Your case review is free and confidential.