In general, product safety laws are primarily enacted to regulate some of the processes that are relevant to the creation of a consumer product, such as:
- The design of a particular product;
- The procedures used to manufacture or make the product;
- The guidelines companies must follow to distribute a product;
- The requirements that entities must comply with to sell the product; and
- The additional rules for third party businesses or persons who wish to resell the product.
In addition to the above regulations, product safety laws serve another important purpose: they ensure that the average consumer is safe from dangerous and defective products. These laws also typically contain a warning component.
For example, consumers must receive adequate notice about the potential dangers or risks associated with using a specific consumer product. To meet compliance standards, businesses may include instructions and attach warning labels on consumer products.
If a business is marketing or advertising a consumer product, it must also make sure to promote the product in a way that suggests how it should be used by consumers. A business cannot encourage improper usage.
It should be noted that product safety laws tend to change on a regular basis. Part of the reason for this is because there are always new consumer products being released into the stream of commerce. Thus, product safety laws must reflect the changes in accordance with the types of consumer products being sold in the current marketplace.
There are some instances, however, wherein product safety laws may state that it is a consumer’s responsibility to look out for their own safety and wellbeing with respect to purchasing and using consumer products. This idea is embedded in the text of both the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 (CPSA) as well as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).
These Acts helped to establish standards for consumer products and to mitigate any dangers associated with them. They also provide procedures that consumers may use to report products that are defective or hazardous in nature. This is known as a “product recall” report.
One last note about product safety laws is that they often vary widely by state. Therefore, if you need help with a product safety issue or would simply like to learn more about product safety laws in general, then you may want to consider contacting a local consumer lawyer for further legal advice.
What Are the Main Purpose for Product Safety Laws?
As previously mentioned, product safety laws serve several important purposes. Some of these purposes include:
- To create a uniform safety standard for consumer products;
- To protect the general public from consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger or risk of harm to consumers who purchase and use such products;
- To minimize the number of state and local product safety regulations;
- To make it easier for the average consumer to assess and evaluate the risks of a consumer product on their own;
- To encourage companies to adopt and implement safe business practices; and
- To encourage research into the causes and prevention of consumer product risks that result in serious bodily injury, illnesses, and death.
What Are Some Legal Claims That Involve Product Safety?
As discussed above in the first section, product safety laws typically vary widely based on the jurisdiction. Some legal claims that concern product safety laws and thus may serve as the basis of a product liability lawsuit include the following:
- Consumer products that violate safety standards, such as when a product is considered defective, dangerous, or contains flaws that cause harm to consumers.
- Warning and product label disputes. For instance, if a pharmaceutical company ignores or violates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s practices by not listing certain ingredients on a label for a specific medication, which in turn, injures a consumer.
- Issues that result in strict liability lawsuits like if a product emits radioactive chemicals or a food contains bacteria that is harmful to consumers and could have been reasonably avoided in its creation.
- Violations of product recall procedures. For example, if a grocery item is recalled because it is making consumers sick and the grocery store chooses to ignore the mandate to immediately remove the product from its shelves without good reason.
- Numerous other product liability claims that may breach the provisions of an individual business contract or defies state and/or local product liability laws.
The majority of cases involving a product safety law violation are usually supported by a claim of negligence. However, such cases may also contain a strict liability issue and/or a breach of express or implied warranty.
In sum, product safety laws allow injured parties to assert the above legal claims in court and to be compensated for any harm that resulted from using a consumer product. The laws also force businesses to remain in compliance with U.S. health and safety standards.
What Are Some Examples of Product Safety Laws?
There are a number of different product safety laws that have been passed by both states and the federal government. As previously mentioned, one of these is called the Consumer Product Safety Act, or CPSA. The CPSA helped to establish the safety standards applied to consumer products today.
The Act also led to the creation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which develops and enforces rules for product recalls and the accompanying procedures.
Another example that was listed in the first section is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The CPSIA assists in protecting whistleblowers who raise awareness about consumer safety issues. For instance, the Act does not permit retailers to sell goods to children that contain lead and were manufactured before 1985.
In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is another governmental agency that helps to regulate products like food and prescribed medications. The FDA often works closely with the CPSC and similar administrative agencies.
Lastly, one other main source of product safety laws stem from state laws regarding consumer protections as well as health and safety standards. It should be noted that while many of these laws are modeled after the provisions of the CPSA, state legislatures tend to tack on more specific terms that correspond with the needs of their state.
What If I’ve Been Injured by a Product?
Consumers who sustain injuries as a result of a defective or flawed consumer product can usually seek damages by filing an action in civil court. If a consumer prevails in the lawsuit, then the court will most likely award them some amount of monetary damages.
These damages are intended to reimburse the consumer for any losses they suffered due to using a faulty product. In some instances, a court may even require an entity to implement stricter safety policies.
In general, a consumer who is injured by a product can sue for either breach of implied or expressed warranty, strict liability, or negligence. They can also sue for violations of state laws. The laws, procedural requirements, and remedies will vary based on the type of claim being filed. The outcome of a case may also depend on the claims being asserted, the facts of a particular case, and whether the consumer can prove the relevant legal elements.
What Is Strict Liability Regarding Defective Products?
Unlike the other legal claims under product safety laws, claims involving strict liability issues do not require a consumer to prove that the risk of injury was foreseeable. Instead, simply proving that an item is defective will lead to automatic liability for a defendant, regardless of the defendant’s intentions or precautions. In other words, the defendant will be held accountable for any injuries that result from a defective product in such cases.
However, it is important for consumers to keep in mind that they may only file a strict liability claim involving a defective product when the defendant is a commercial supplier. These types of claims cannot be filed against individual sellers.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Product Safety Laws?
Product safety laws may affect nearly every aspect of consumer life. Therefore, if you need assistance with an issue concerning product safety laws, then it may be in your best interest to consult with a local liability lawyer as soon as possible since such claims can expire.
A lawyer who has experience in dealing with cases involving product safety laws will be able to apprise you of the laws in your area as well as can recommend some options for legal recourse. Your lawyer can also help you file a claim against a company and present an argument on your behalf in civil court.
In addition, your lawyer can make sure that you receive the appropriate sum of monetary damages based on the facts of your case. Lastly, if you think you have grounds for a class action products liability lawsuit, your lawyer will be able to assist you in commencing this type of legal action as well.