Do recalls protect manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2023 | Wrongful death |

The death of a loved one is a traumatic experience. That pain is even worse when the death could have been prevented.

Last year, over one billion items were recalled due to defects and safety issues. But what happens when one of those defects causes someone’s death?

The process for recalled products

There are multiple channels through which a manufacturer learns their products may cause harm, including:

  • Direct contact from consumers
  • Internal testing and quality control
  • Reports from retailers who have fielded customer complaints
  • Regulatory agencies who monitor reports of product-related injuries
  • Media

After learning of a potential problem, a manufacturer will likely conduct an assessment to determine the number of products affected and the risk severity. If there is a significant risk to the public, the manufacturer should report the issue to a regulatory agency, such as the FDA, CPSC or NHTSA.

There are multiple ways to notify the public, including press releases, the company’s website, social media, or direct communication.

But does a recall absolve the manufacturer of liability? Not necessarily.

If a manufacturer learns of a defect in its product that poses a danger and promptly issues a recall, it could potentially limit the number of lawsuits.

However, if a consumer is injured or killed before the recall was issued or if they were unaware of the recall, the manufacturer could be held liable. Defects typically fall into three categories, all of which could be grounds for a lawsuit:

  1. Product defect
  2. Manufacturing defect
  3. Marketing defect

Therefore, even after a recall, if the product’s design, manufacturing process or labeling is found to be flawed, the manufacturer could still face legal action. In some cases, a recall could be evidence that a manufacturer knew the product to be dangerous.

If you have lost a loved one because of a company’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation. While it won’t heal your pain, it can help with final expenses and replace lost income.