Recalls Don’t Solve the Problem of Defective Product Injuries


Recalls Don’t Solve the Problem of Defective Product Injuries

In our last post, we discussed the serious threat that defective products pose to those of us living and working here in Indiana and Illinois.  It’s shocking how many products with flaws or failures are sold in our communities – and how often recalls are issued on all sorts of different products.

However, recalls alone do not solve the problem of defective products harming people.  The sad truth is that even when recalls are announced, people are still hurt and killed by these flawed and dangerous products. 

Recalled products, already sold and in homes or on the streets, often are not repaired or replaced.  And sometimes, the companies go bankrupt, thereby limiting the amount of funds available to help defective product victims. 

The Historic Takata Air Bag Recall

We’ve discussed the massive recall of Takata airbags which were placed into a wide variety of cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs sold here in the United States.

In fact, the Takata recall made the history books as the largest vehicle recall of its kind in the United States.  Over 42 million vehicles have been subject to recall because of this single defective product, the Takata airbag.

It’s reported that over 180 victims have been injured from these exploding air bags.  At least 16 deaths have been attributed to Takata air bags in this country.

And you remain at risk:  it’s highly likely that you, or someone you know, have had a defective Takata air bag in their vehicle.  For more on the dangers presented by these defective products manufactured by Takata, read our discussion in:

Takata Files Bankruptcy

Last month, Takata filed bankruptcy.  In its June 28, 2017 press release, Takata explained that the company has been forced into bankruptcy because of the financial liabilities presented by the massive airbag recalls.

For some, this may seem like a form of justice.  But from a personal injury claim perspective, this may not be good news.

Because filing for bankruptcy in the face of all these airbags being distributed and sold in the United States means the company likely will not have the financial wherewithal to cover present and future claims for bodily injuries and wrongful deaths caused by its defective product. 

Others are also pointing out the injustice here. See, e.g., the recent CNBC discussion, “Takata Bankrupcty Means Less Money for Exploding Air Bag Victims.

Products Not Repaired or Returned After Recall

Defective products run the gamut:  they can be defects in consumer products like toys or car seats, or in motor vehicles, like the Takata air bag.  They can involve tainted and toxic food items (like e coli laden beef patties) as well as defective components in industrial equipment used on the job, like hand tools, or boilers.

Compound this with the massive number of recalls that are issued each year here in Indiana and Illinois.  There are several serious recalls issued here each week.  These are defects that can harm or kill people and they are in products that have already been placed in the marketplace and sold

This means all of us, every day, are at risk for being seriously hurt or killed by a defective product

Six different federal agencies have joined together to build and maintain the website Recalls.gov.  Here, you can research recalls in consumer products; motor vehicles; boats; food; medicine; cosmetics; and environmental products.

But how often do you do this?  How often does anyone check their products for safety?  And even if a recall notice is sent for an appliance or a car, for example, how often does someone procrastinate on taking the item in for repair or replacement?

It’s scary to think about how many cars are being driven on Indiana and Illinois roads today that are being operated with a recalled product.  It’s terrifying to consider how many infant car seats, or toys, or construction safety devices, or industrial tools, etc., are being used today even though they are defective.

What happens here?  What happens to the third party victim of one of these defective products who is harmed in an accident?  If a driver of a recalled vehicle causes a fatal collision, then does his victim’s family have a claim against the manufacturer of the defective product? 

Getting Justice for Victims of Defective Products

Bankruptcy filings by the defective product manufacturer are a very serious problem for victims of defective products.  The Takata bankruptcy filing will thwart justice for future accident victims who are injured or killed by an exploding air bag.  And Takata is far from the first or only company to file for bankruptcy in the face of defective product claims.

However, an even greater danger exists for all of us in the great volume of recalled goods and products that surround us in our everyday life.  Dozens of recalls are issued each month in Indiana and Illinois (for details, see our earlier discussion this week).

Recalls do not create safe products.  They are merely warnings of defects and dangers.  For insurance defense lawyers, they may be seen as tools to argue limited liability for their company clients. 

Personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims based upon an accident caused by a defective product can be complicated.   Not only must the victim (or their family) investigate and discover that the defect was at fault, but they also may have some complications with determining what parties share legal responsibility for the incident.  Often, there are multiple defendants involved.

Finally, there is the issue of which defendants will have the financial ability to pay for the damages that the defective product has caused.  Even after a claim has been acknowledged, or a jury verdict has been returned, a company may file bankruptcy or go under leaving it “judgment proof” on a serious defective product calamity.

If you or a loved one has been in a serious accident or suffered severe injuries due to a product, then you deserve to know whether or not the law provides recompense to you for the harm caused by that defective product.   Indiana and Illinois both have laws on the books to help defective product victims get justice.  Let’s be careful out there!

 

 

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