Texas Product Recall Attorneys
Defective tires, tainted hamburger, and toys that pose choking risks are just a few notable examples of the kinds of product recalls that consumers hear about on a regular basis. While learning that a product you are using is potentially dangerous may seem frightening at first, realizing that product recalls are an essential mechanism to protect consumers is important. Products are recalled if they are determined to be defective and could cause serious injury or death, even when used properly.
When someone has been injured by a defective product, the injured person or surviving family members may have the right to bring a Texas product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the harmful product in order to recover the damages that they suffered. An experienced products liability or personal injury attorney can help determine whether a valid claim exists and provide information and representation throughout the entire legal process, in order to ensure that the injured parties secure the compensation to which they are entitled. To help prevent injury in the first place, pay close attention to product recalls, which are described in more detail in this article.
Getting Defective Products Out of the Hands of the Public
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency that works to save lives and keep families safe by reducing the risk of injuries and deaths caused by unsafe consumer products. One of the primary roles that the CPSC assumes in order to achieve that goal is to facilitate the recall of defective products or arrange for their repair. A product is recalled if it presents a significant risk to consumers either because it may be defective or because it violates a mandatory CPSC standard. Once a product has been recalled, consumers should generally stop using it, unless the specific instructions relating to that product indicate otherwise.
Product recalls are usually effective indefinitely; in other words, product recalls generally have no end dates. Just because one product made by a certain manufacturer has been recalled does not indicate that the manufacturer’s other products are harmful. In fact, many recalls apply only to products manufactured and date-coded for specific time periods; so even the same product made at a different time may pose no risk. A complete listing of products currently under recall by the CPSC is available on its website, www.cpsc.gov. The CPSC also offers a wealth of other information, including various informative and helpful publications, all of which are available free of charge on the website. Some of these publications are offered in Spanish, or even other languages, as well English.
Although the CPSC oversees the safety of over 15,000 kinds of consumer products, that agency does not monitor the safety of certain important and widely used products, including motor vehicles, food, drugs, and cosmetics. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles are under the purview of the Department of Transportation, and food, drugs, and cosmetics are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The CPSC offers links on its website to these and other federal regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees products like pesticides, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which regulates gun safety.
If the CPSC determines that a product is potentially harmful or violates a mandatory standard, it notifies the manufacturer in writing that corrective action should be taken. The letter usually includes specific guidance on what steps are warranted. For example, a repair may be all that is necessary to make the product safe, or total elimination from consumer use may be in order. The manufacturer is asked to submit to the CPSC for its review a plan outlining the steps the manufacturer intends to take.
Recalls are designed to locate all potentially dangerous products as quickly as possible, to remove them from the chain of distribution and users’ hands, and to communicate accurate and understandable information to the consuming public about the hazard and the steps being taken to remedy it. In order to achieve these goals, the CPSC may approve various methods of consumer notification by responsible companies. For instance, individual consumers may be notified directly that a recall is underway. Such communication must be clearly labeled so that the consumer knows its import, such as by the heading “SAFETY RECALL NOTICE” or “IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE,” both on the letter itself and on the envelope containing the letter. The letter should also explain that the recall is for safety reasons, the nature of the product hazard, and the recommended action for the consumer. Letters must be specific and concise and directed at the target audience; that is, they must be individualized for consumers, distributors, and retailers.
Alternatively, notification may be achieved through the display of posters or counter cards in the retail outlets where the recalled product was sold. In such a case, the recalling company usually prepares the poster or counter card and provides it to the retailer with specific instructions on where and how long to display it. A recall poster or counter card must be displayed in several prominent, conspicuous places throughout the selling establishments, such as on the shelf where the product was routinely sold, at checkout counters and customer service desks, and at store entrances and exits; they must be printed in colors that contrast with the background; and they must be readily visible and easily understandable. The CPSC often recommends that the display continue for 120 days, although the exact timeline may vary depending on the particular circumstances.
Press releases may also be used to notify consumers about product recalls. Such releases are made available to the major wire news services (the Associated Press and United Press International), as well as to major metropolitan newspapers, television and radio networks, and relevant periodical publications. A press release that is issued by the CPSC itself generates significant media attention. Whether issued by the CPSC or the manufacturer, press releases must include the name of the product and the manufacturer; the specific hazard involved; the suggested retail price of the product; a description of the product and its intended use; the model and serial number and where they are located on the product; relevant dates of distribution and sale in order to help consumers determine whether they purchased the affected product; guidelines for discontinuing use of the product, if applicable; directions on how to obtain a refund, repair, or replacement; major national retailers selling the product; a description of the defect and the date the CPSC first became aware of it; and a name and toll-free telephone number that consumers may contact if they have questions about the recall. Press releases may also include an illustration of the product being recalled.
Thousands of consumer products have been recalled in recent years. Rather than demonstrating only the plethora of hazardous products that are sold, however, the volume of recalls actually demonstrates the vigilance that is applied to protecting the consuming public. If you are notified of a product recall, be sure to follow the instructions provided. If you do not and are injured as a result, your failure to heed the warnings could compromise any claim you may have against the manufacturer or seller.
If you have been injured by a recalled product or a product that was subsequently recalled, you may be able to make a claim against the manufacturer or seller. When seeking an attorney to represent you in connection with such a claim, be sure to investigate his or her background in products liability law. Ask questions about his or her training and experience so that you can make an informed decision about whether this is the right person to zealously represent your interests against a big company that may have many more resources than you do to fight the claims against it. Only with a veteran San Antonio product recall lawyer or personal injury attorney on your side can you be sure to achieve an outcome that best compensates you for your losses.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.