When a company sells a product, they're making a promise that the product is safe for reasonable use and that any necessary warnings for that product have been disclosed. In other words, they're guaranteeing the product won't cause you harm. But the manufacturing process isn't perfect, and some unsafe products get released.
When that happens, product recalls (either voluntary or compulsory) pull those items from the shelves and offer a remedy to the people who have bought those products already. But what, specifically, are your rights if you own a recalled product?
Your consumer rights in a product recall, broadly speaking, include the right to:
- Be informed reasonably quickly about the recall
- Be offered a remedy that solves the recall issue
- File a claim if the recalled product caused you injury
Which Agency Handles My Recall?
Numerous US agencies handle recalls; which one you need will depend on the product. For instance, any car-related product will be the jurisdiction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Any cosmetics, food, drugs, medical devices, and similar items will be under the Food and Drug Administration. Pesticides and fungicides are under the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you're ever unsure about who handles your product, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission site; they have a cheat sheet of which products are covered by which agency.
Do I Get a Refund When a Product Is Recalled?
In the US, the right to a remedy includes at least one of three options: replacement, repair, or refund. It's not always your choice which one you get, though. In situations where a company issues a voluntary recall, they're more able to set the terms of the recall and decide how customers will receive a remedy.
However, if the Consumer Product Safety Commission or other federal agency issues a compulsory recall, the government may have the authority to determine what your remedy will be. In either case, you may not have the right to a refund, but it's more than likely you'll be able to request one as an option.
What Should I Do If a Product I Own Is Recalled?
The first step is to stop using the product as much as you're able. The next step is to visit Recalls.gov for the notice issued about your product. That notice will include a description of why the product has been recalled and how you can get a repair, replacement, or refund.
Can I Return a Recalled Item Without a Receipt?
Although every recall is different, you shouldn't need a receipt to return a recalled item. Depending on the specifics of the recall, the manufacturer may require you to show proof of ownership, which may include a photo or a receipt.
What to Do If You're Injured by a Recalled Product
Product recalls are preventative, but if you're injured by a product that's been recalled, then you have the right to file a claim against the company directly for your damages. Our Louisiana product liability lawyers have experience filing claims against the largest companies and manufacturers in the world, including car companies and pharmaceutical corporations. Your consumer rights after a product recall are not nearly as strong as your plaintiff rights after an injury. If you want to know your legal options, call Clayton, Frugé & Ward today for help.
Get a free consultation at (225) 209-9943 or via our online form.