Are Manufacturers Off the Hook Once They Issue a Recall?
When a person buys a product, whether from a department store, online or directly from the manufacturer, there is an expectation that it has been designed and tested with the safety of the consumer in mind. This level of trust is necessary because the end user is looking for a device to fill a specific need. In an effort to safeguard against the possibility of buying a defective project, many people tend to buy brands that are well-known and long-standing. However, even storied brands can have issues with product safety, and face product liability lawsuits if someone is injured as a result. Consumers especially expect products designed with children in mind to be fully vetted against possible safety hazards due to the unpredictability of children’s behavior, and their inability to assess when and how something to use. IKEA recently decided to recall 27 million dressers after 3 children died over the past two years. Based on a history of problems, the Malm brand dressers are considered unstable and have a tendency to tip over. This instability led to the three deaths cited above and also caused additional injuries to other children. Last year, in place of a recall, the company elected to fund an ad campaign to warn consumers about the risks posed by the dressers, and offered anchoring kits to attach the dressers to a wall. IKEA is just one example of a company choosing to recall a product due to safety issues, and the seriousness of the injuries provokes the question of whether a company retains any liability for injuries caused by products once a recall is issued. This question, plus an overview of what constitutes a product liability case, will follow below.
Basics of a Product Liability Suit
Product liability lawsuits are designed to hold manufacturers, wholesalers and/or distributors responsible for defective products that cause injury to a consumer. A party can sue for two issues – a failure to warn or a defect. A failure to warn product liability lawsuit is based on the premise that a manufacturer has a duty to warn consumers about known dangers in its products. For defects, there are generally two types – manufacturing defects and design defects. Manufacturing defects are problems with the assembly and are not intended to be part of the product. Cases based on these defects hold the manufacturer liable under the theory of strict liability, which says that a plaintiff only has to prove a defect existed that caused an injury to hold the manufacturer responsible. The responsibility of the manufacturer for defects is applicable regardless of how careful the manufacturer was during assembly. Design defects are inherent flaws in the design of the product that makes it unreasonably dangerous and hazardous to potential users. Under Florida law, suits for design defects require the judge or jury to look at the state of technological knowledge when the product was designed and not when the injury occurred. Thus, if only later scientific advancement revealed a problem with a product’s design, a manufacturer may not be liable.
Effect of Recall on Liability
Manufacturers generally learn of issues with defects or product safety after widespread reports from consumers or a government agency brings the problem to the company’s attention. The manufacturer then has the option of issuing a voluntary recall, or a government agency can force a recall if action is not taken quickly enough. While a recall can help establish the existence of a defect, it does not automatically make the manufacturer liable. Further, recalling a product does not mean the manufacturer is off the hook. The manufacturer must prove the particular plaintiff received the recall notice and included sufficient information about the product’s dangers.
Talk to Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered an injury from a product you purchased that was advertised as safe, you should meet with a personal injury lawyer to see if you have claim against the manufacturer or other distributor. Even if your injury was an isolated incident, you may still be able hold someone responsible. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado has the necessary experience to effectively handle these complex cases. Contact us for a free consultation.