Companies initiate product safety recalls for a variety of reasons. Companies might not ever learn about a problem with one of their products until someone suffers an injury. However, there are a few times when the company receives consumer complaints about a defective product, or the company conducts safety testing and discovers the problem internally. The company will recall the dangerous product to avoid product liability litigation by recalling the item before someone is hurt or soon after a consumer suffers an injury or illness to prevent greater legal exposure. Additionally, some governmental agencies such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have the inherent authority to compel a business to recall a faulty product.
Several of the thousands of consumer products, medical devices, medicines, and automobiles recalled every year would be the subject of a product liability legal claim. Many people injured by a consumer product that is recalled by its manufacturer believe that they will automatically win their product liability case.
Unfortunately, the generally held assumption that a company is admitting guilt if a company recalls a product is not entirely accurate. A company that starts a recall campaign for a product after it learns of an injury, illness, or death is not an admission of guilt. In fact, a judge might not allow evidence of a recall at trial. Public policy favors recalling potentially defective products because the public receives greater protection. If evidence of a recall admissible as guilt against a company in a product liability lawsuit, then companies might never recall defective products and allow more people to get hurt just to limit the company’s liability.
However, a recall campaign can benefit a product liability plaintiff. A recall campaign can provide details about how a company learned about a defect, who was ultimately responsible for the error, and who might hold information about the defect necessitating a recall. Knowing these details is essential for a product liability plaintiff to know in order to prove his or her case, and to that extent, product recall campaigns help the plaintiff.
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