Product liability means holding someone responsible for damages caused by any part or all parts of any good or item. The defective/dangerous element, part or ingredient could have been added anywhere along the chain of manufacturing, distributing, or packaging a product. When someone is injured due to anything from a faulty part on a lawnmower to an unsafe ingredient in a medication, anyone involved in making and selling that product could be held liable. This includes the manufacturer of the components through those who handle the assembly of the good to those who distribute or sell the finished product.
Dangerous, defective products that cause harm (in some cases even death) are the subjects of product liability lawsuits. In general, products are considered tangible objects but, more recently “products” have included “intangibles” such as gas, “naturals” such as pets, “real estate” such as a house, and “writing” such as navigational charts.
When a product liability case takes place, and the manufacturer and / or other entities are found to be responsible, they are required by the court to pay monetary damages to the victims. Sometimes, a recall is ordered. Many people remember the case of Goodyear tires that were prone to blowouts and caused accidents and deaths. All those tires had to be recalled. Even recently, Goodyear had to recall their Fortera tires – but some recalls, like this latest one, are initiated by the company, not a lawsuit judgment.
Product recall is a formal request made by those responsible for a potentially harmful product to return a product to the place of purchase, after learning that there is reason to be concerned about product defects. The product could have characteristics that can negatively impact the safety of users and in effect, put the maker/seller at risk of legal action. Note that sometimes the defect is in the packaging or labeling. For example, a warning that a certain product cannot be used in a certain way, or cannot be combined with another product, needs to appear on the packaging or inserts. If warnings were not included and someone was killed or injured, a product liability case is justified.
The voluntary recall is a step taken by a corporation to limit their liability – realizing that they could be held accountable for negligence and incur legal expenses as well as having their reputation damaged. Sometimes, companies are aware of the potential danger or defect in a product, but they evaluate the potential level of harm to an end user and the likelihood of the harm occurring, and make a financial decision whether to recall the product. One or two lawsuits that they settle might cost far less than a big recall. Recalls as a process are costly and so as you can imagine, companies avoid them. In some cases, they purposefully allow a dangerous product to remain on the market. This has happened with pharmaceuticals and automobiles many times in history. And this is why it is important to have personal injury attorneys who pursue these liability cases and hold these unethical businesses responsible.
The United States has consumer protection laws intended to offer specific requirements for the product recall process. They include how much money a firm may be required to bear in the recall process and penalties for failure to recall when public safety is at risk. To help keep us informed, the U.S. Federal Government dedicates a site (www.recalls.gov) listing the latest recalls of products from child safety, medicine, food, cosmetics and cars, to name a few. Automotive makers are amongst the biggest offenders with recent headlines featuring Toyota and General Motors LLC (GM).