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Liability after a product recall

Especially during the holiday season, when you hope to buy good quality gifts for each of your loved ones, product recalls can be a scary reminder that not all products are safe. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission shows 229 recalled products so far for 2019. These product recalls happened for a wide variety of reasons – from faulty wiring that can cause fires and burns to defective parts that pose injury hazards.

The process and results of a recall are different for each product. Some companies repair the defective product while others offer a refund or store credit when you return the item. This method makes sense if you heard about the recall before the product caused any harm, but no one has the time to consistently check for product recalls on the off-chance that something you bought is dangerous or defective. What can you do if the recall notice reached you too late and you or a loved one already suffered the consequences of a defective product?

Do recall notices waive a company’s liability?

Just because a manufacturer or seller puts out a product recall notice does not mean that they no longer hold responsibility for the damages the product causes. The same product liability concerns apply for a product that the company recalls.

You can receive compensation for a toy that burned your child due to bad wiring or a tool that injured your husband. The important piece is proving that the injury occurred because of the product and that there was a major design flaw, marketing flaw or manufacturing flaw that the company reasonably should prevent.

How can I report an unsafe product?

If you or a loved one receive a dangerous or defective product this Christmas, you do have options for reporting the issue. For motor vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission handles reporting. For most other products, you can file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.