Who’s Liable When a Recalled Product Causes an Injury?
Sometimes, it seems like recalls are part of everyday life. We’re constantly hearing about recalls involving cars, medications, home goods, and the food we eat. Unfortunately, every product recall poses a serious risk to our health and safety – and you should never ignore a recall notice.
At Crosley Law, our product liability lawyers help people throughout Texas rebuild after a dangerous or defective product harms them. In this article, we’ll discuss the essentials of a product recall, using the recent inclined sleeper recalls as an example. We’ll also outline what you should do if you or your loved one suffers injuries from an unsafe product.
What Is a Product Recall?
There are two types of product recalls:
- Voluntary recalls: The company decides to initiate the recall. You must follow the recall notice – it is not optional.
- Mandatory recalls: If the company refuses to recall its products or takes insufficient steps to keep consumers safe, the government will issue its own recall.
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When a company discovers that one of its products poses a safety risk, it’s supposed to contact the appropriate government agency, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), or National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA). These agencies are responsible for overseeing product safety and the recall process.
Most recalls are voluntary. In these cases, the company will publish a recall notice and inform consumers of the product’s danger. Typically, the company will offer to either repair, replace, or compensate you for the dangerous product. For example, in 2019 alone, auto companies repaired 7.5 million vehicles due to defective Takata airbag inflators. However, a recall does not compensate you for your personal injuries – you will need to file a legal claim to recover your damages.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries From a Recalled Product?
A product recall does not completely take away the manufacturer’s financial responsibility for selling a faulty and dangerous product. However, it can help them reduce their liability.
Suppose you purchased an inclined infant sleeper for your newborn, like the Fisher-Price “Rock ‘N Play.” You get an email notifying you that the company recalled the device because your baby could suffocate while using it. The notice clearly tells you to stop using the sleeper immediately. You also see several news stories about the seriousness of the recall and how inclined sleepers are linked to at least 73 deaths. You decide to continue using your child’s “Rock ‘N Play.” If the unthinkable happens, the manufacturer could argue that it warned you of the risk, and you knowingly used the sleeper.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a recalled or dangerous product, you should take the following steps:
- Call 911, if necessary
- Seek medical treatment for injuries
- Give your doctors an accurate history of how you injured yourself
- Do not throw out or return the dangerous product – it will be important evidence in your injury claim
- Take pictures of the unsafe product and the scene of your injury, focusing on evidence like burn marks and debris fields
- Contact an experienced product liability lawyer
Inclined Sleeper Recalls: Companies Fail to Take Our Children’s Safety Seriously
Companies marketed inclined infant sleepers as a soothing and safe option for napping babies, and they became wildly popular with parents. However, the CPSC started receiving reports of serious and fatal injuries involving inclined sleepers as early as January 2005.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants sleep alone, on their back, on a firm, flat surface, and without bumpers or additional bedding. Many, if not all, inclined sleepers ignore these suggestions. Instead, they place babies at a 10 to 30% angle, which can interfere with their breathing. Under these circumstances, the child can easily suffocate.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants sleep alone, on their back, on a firm, flat surface, and without bumpers or additional bedding.”
In April 2019, Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million of its “Rock ‘n Play” sleepers, the first of many inclined sleeper recalls. Some sources suggest that Fisher-Price was aware of the sleeper’s dangers for years.
At the request of the CPSC, a team of physicians and biomechanics researchers studied and tested 14 different inclined sleep products. The researchers determined that every single sleeper they tested was unsafe for infants.
By October 2019, the federal government was taking steps to ban the manufacture and sale of all inclined infant sleeping systems. Today, at least eight companies have recalled more than five million sleepers and loungers.
For too many families, the recall wasn’t enough. At least 73 infants died due to the dangerous sleep systems, and more than 1,000 suffered injuries. If you have an inclined sleeper, you should immediately stop using it.
Families across the country have also sued Fisher-Price and other sleeper manufacturers for their children’s deaths and injuries.
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We all want to believe that we are using products that have been carefully tested and proven to be safe, especially if they’re designed for our babies. But the unfortunate reality is that companies often sell and distribute dangerous products.
If you have any questions about an infant inclined sleeper or another product, the best thing you can do is speak with an experienced product liability lawyer. Contact Crosley Law to receive a consultation on your product recall claim.
Peachman, R.B. (2020, February 20). Guide to recalled infant inclined sleepers, nappers, and loungers. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/child-safety/recalled-infant-inclined-sleepers-nappers-loungers-guide/
Peachman, R.B. (2020, January 29). Graco, Evenflo, Sumr Brands, and Delta recall infant inclined sleepers. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/recalls/graco-evenflo-sumr-brands-and-delta-recall-infant-inclined-sleepers/
Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2019, October 19). Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Infant Sleep Products. Author: Bethesda, MD. Retrieved from https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/SupplementalNoticeofProposedRulemakingforInfantSleepProducts_10_16_2019.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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