You may have heard the terms “product recall” and “product defect” before.  They sound similar, but they are very different in nature. 

In general, a product recall occurs when the manufacturer of a product identifies some sort of safety hazard with the product, such as when the manufacturer of Segways recalled 6000 Segways in 2003.  A “recall” is then issued for the product, meaning that the public is notified, and the product is to be removed from sales displays.  After a recall, the product can no longer be legally sold on the market, and the affected consumers can usually get a refund from the company.  Some common types of product recalls are:

If you own a product that has been recalled, you should stop using it immediately and check to see if you can obtain a refund.  Also, you should not purchase items that you know have been recalled. 

On the other hand, defective product is one that isn’t operating the way that it should be.  A defect may not always involve consumer safety.  For example, some models of the iPhone had defect issues with their performance that didn’t necessarily affect consumer safety. 

Thus, a defective product may not always require a recall of the product.  The manufacturer may issue a “patch” or a quick fix to the solution instead of a refund.  The product can sometimes remain on the market. 

What if I’ve Been Injured by a Product?

If you have been injured by a product, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries.  In most cases, you will be filing a lawsuit based on product liability laws.  Product liability lawsuits are usually based on product defect categories (regardless of whether the product was recalled or not).  These categories include:     

  • Design defect:  The injury was caused by a defect in the way the product was designed
  • Manufacturing defect:  The product was designed properly, but an error during manufacturing caused the product to become dangerous (such as a missing screw or safety lock)
  • Labeling defect:  The product failed to contain clearly marked warnings regarding the possible dangers associated with its normal use

In a products liability claim, the plaintiff may be able to recover losses such as medical expenses, hospital bills, and lost wages if the injury caused them to miss work. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Product Recalls or Product Defects?

The laws covering product recalls and defects can vary from state to state.  Many product liability lawsuits are filed as a class action suit.  If you need help understanding the products laws in your state, you may wish to hire a products and services lawyer for advice.  Your lawyer can provide you with legal advice and can represent you in court if you have been injured by the product.