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Product Recalls vs. Product Defects

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How are Product Recalls and Product Defects Different?

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. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-19-2018 10:32 PM PDT

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