Personal InjuryThe Role of Product Recalls in Liability Claims

June 6, 20240

Product recalls are an unfortunate but necessary reality in the modern marketplace. When a manufacturer determines that a product is defective or poses a safety risk to consumers, they may voluntarily initiate a recall, or a government agency like the Consumer Product Safety Commission can mandate one. For consumers that have been harmed by a defective product, understanding how recalls relate to legal claims against the manufacturer is important.

What Triggers a Product Recall?

There are two primary triggers that lead companies to issue recalls:

  1. Design or Manufacturing Defects

If a product is found to have a flaw in its design or manufacturing that poses a safety hazard or fails to comply with regulations, the company may pull it from the market. This could be something like a children’s toy with small parts that present a choking risk or a medical device with contaminated ingredients.

  1. Failure to Warn

When a product is inherently dangerous, but this risk is not appropriately disclosed through labeling and instructions, it may be considered defective. Lack of sufficient warnings and instructions can prompt recalls of household cleaners, power tools, prescription drugs, and automobiles.

The Role of Recalls in Liability Lawsuits

In many product liability lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous in some way AND this defect actually caused their injuries or damages. Recalls can help establish legal liability in a few important ways:

  • It shows the manufacturer was aware of a flaw or risk of harm. When a company recalls a product themselves, it demonstrates knowledge of the defect.
  • It helps prove the product was defective from the outset. If thousands or millions of units are recalled, it indicates the problem existed during design or production rather than as a one-off manufacturing error.
  • It shows other consumers experienced the same issue. Widespread recalls indicate the defect commonly impacted numerous people, rather than being an isolated incident.

While recalls are not an automatic indication of liability, they are very useful for building a case by providing evidence that a systematically flawed product made it to market.

Using Recalls to Bolster Injury Claims

Here are some examples of how plaintiffs may utilize recalls as evidence in lawsuits stemming from personal injuries:

  • A patient sues a medical device maker after a surgically implanted hip replacement fails prematurely and requires risky revision surgery. In discovery, the plaintiff’s lawyer finds the manufacturer issued a recall for the same model hip replacement due to high failure rates.
  • Parents file a suit alleging their child developed a dangerous fever from taking a widely prescribed antibiotic. It comes out the drug maker quietly stopped sales and recalled the medication after discovering manufacturing errors led to modified dosages.
  • A worker injured by an exploding power tool brings a lawsuit against the retailer and toolmaker. The injured worker’s attorney introduces a recall of the same make and model tool for defects causing sudden shattering during normal use.

In each case, the recall helps substantiate that the product was unreasonably dangerous in a way that directly caused the plaintiff’s harm.

Recalls Shape Litigation Outcomes

Companies cannot eliminate all liability by recalling defective products, but promptly taking corrective action can positively influence the outcome of lawsuits in some cases. Conversely, failing to promptly recall products known to be faulty can exacerbate damages. Manufacturers should take the risks of safety defects seriously and be proactive with recalls when necessary. Consumers that have been impacted by recalled products should consult an experienced products liability attorney to understand their legal options.

Contact Our Defective Product Injury Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries caused by a defective product that has been recalled, our legal team may be able to help recover damages. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with an accomplished defective products liability lawyer.

Visit our office at 15 Broad St #800 Boston, MA 02109.

Or call now for a free consultation on (617) 263-0860.

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