As consumers, we trust that the products we buy will make our lives better, not worse. We also believe that when something goes wrong, the manufacturer will do its part to protect us from danger and make sure that no one is harmed again. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
In this blog, Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys’ product liability team outlines what to do after a recall and how to seek compensation if you’ve been hurt by a defective product, whether it’s been recalled or not.
What Is a Product Recall?
When a design defect or manufacturing errors puts consumers at risk, a company can recall the product on their own, or at the behest of a government agency. This process is called a product recall. Typically, a manufacturer must notify the government when they identify a defective or faulty product that carries a significant risk of injury or death. However, noncompliant companies may face a mandatory, government-ordered recall.
After a product has been recalled, the company must implement a recall plan.
The Company Publishes a Recall Notice
Many recalls are made public in trade journals, pushed through the media, or to dealers and owners directly, depending on the circumstances. When a car or car part is recalled, the manufacturer will notify the registered owner of the vehicle.
Government Agencies Monitor Recall Compliance
Depending on the type of product involved, a recall may involve the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), or other state and federal agencies. These agencies help oversee recalls and protect consumers from further harm.
Consumers Receive Repairs or Refunds
If you own a dangerous or defective product that has been recalled and it has not harmed you, read the recall notice carefully and follow its instructions. Depending on the company’s recall plan, it will either give you a refund, replace, or repair the product.
If the recall notice tells you that you should not use the product, cease its operation immediately.
Takata Airbags: A Recall Gone Very Wrong
While some recalls are relatively short-lived, others go on for years. Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata began noticing problems with its airbags in 2000, when inflators started malfunctioning and even exploding during tests. However, the company did nothing to protect consumers – and employees even manipulated test data to hide the problem.
Unfortunately, when a defective Takata airbag activates, it can break into tiny fragments and shrapnel that cause catastrophic and fatal injuries. One of the first documented Takata cases occurred in Alabama in 2004.
In November 2008, Honda issued the first Takata-related recall. In November 2009, the NHTSA began investigating the issue but was hampered by inaccurate information it received from the airbag company. Eventually, Takata agreed to recall millions of airbag inflators and pay up to $200 million in penalties – but problems still persisted.
In 2016, Takata agreed to recall another 35-40 million inflators, making it the largest recall in U.S. history. The company pled guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay nearly a billion dollars in penalties and compensation.
According to the NHTSA, almost 42 million vehicles contained defective Takata airbags. Due to the size of the recall, the process was staged. The last expected round of Takata recalls will occur in December 2019, almost two decades after the problem arose. The most recent Takata-related fatality occurred in March 2019.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured by a Recalled or Dangerous Product?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a defective vehicle, product, or medication, you may be eligible for compensation. However, to protect your legal claims, you’ll need to act quickly.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Defective products and dangerous drugs can cause catastrophic injuries. However, even if your injuries appear minor at first glance, it’s in your best interest to consult with a doctor. First, you may have unidentified injuries or complications that need immediate care. Second, your medical records will serve as valuable evidence in your potential product liability claims.
Preserve the Evidence
If a defective product hurt you, don’t return or repair it as part of a recall. To prove your injury claim, your product liability lawyer and their team of experts will need to examine and study the product.
In most product liability claims, you must prove that the product malfunctioned “without substantial alteration” and caused damage to your person or property as a result. Having reliable evidence is critical. Otherwise, the company will assert that you damaged or modified the product and caused it to malfunction, instead of taking responsibility for their dangerous product.
Call a Product Liability Lawyer
When a dangerous product hurts you, you deserve honest advice from an experienced lawyer. In Alabama, it’s especially critical for victims to seek legal counsel; factors like liability and breach of warranty may impact your ability to recover damages. Given these complex factors, it’s in your best interest to consult with an injury attorney before deciding to return the product or pursue legal action.
You Have Two Years to File a Product Liability Lawsuit
Under Alabama law, you only have a short period to file a product liability claim. You typically must file your lawsuit within two years of your date of injury. Different rules may apply if you were not immediately aware of your injury – if you need help calculating your filing deadlines, contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys.
RELATED ARTICLE: Injured by a Dangerous Drug or Medical Device? Know Your Rights
A Product Recall Does Not Guarantee Compensation for Your Suffering
There’s a common misconception that, as a victim who’s been harmed by a dangerous product, you’ll automatically get compensation. But a recall does not mean the company has any legal obligation to offer you compensation, nor does it automatically bring a suit against the company.
A recall notice simply means the manufacturer is aware of the problem and is doing something to correct it. In fact, many dangerous products are never recalled! If a faulty product results in lost time, money, and quality of life, you deserve compensation. However, the only way to collect these damages is to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer, or distributor.
No matter what you decide to do after a product recall, you deserve to understand the options available to you. We always encourage victims to take advantage of a free consultation with Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys to make sure you have all the information you need to make a good decision.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Protecting Alabama Residents From Dangerous Products
Getting hurt by a dangerous product can be one of the scariest things that can happen to a person. When you do everything right, but things still go wrong, you need the wisdom, guidance, and reassurance of an experienced product liability attorney.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ll listen to your story with empathy and understanding, and fight for you like you were our own family. When you need to win, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us today at (251) 888-8888 today or complete our simple online form. Consultations are free and no risk to you!
Jones, C., & Bomey, N. (2017, June 25). Timeline: How Takata’s air-bag scandal erupted. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/06/25/takata-air-bag-scandal-timeline/103184598/
Takata airbag recall: Everything you need to know. (2019, March 29). Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/car-recalls-defects/takata-airbag-recall-everything-you-need-to-know/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.