As consumers, we have the right to expect that the products we purchase are safe. We expect that the product we are buying has gone through rigorous testing and inspections to ensure that it is safe. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as we see time and time again with product recall alerts warning us that a certain product may be dangerous. All too often – and tragically – these recalls arise because users of injury or death.
What Is a Dangerous or Defective Product?
A product can be dangerous or defective because it is improperly designed, defectively manufactured, or dangerous in the absence of warnings about proper and improper use of the product.
There are typically two ways a product ends up getting recalled – either the manufacturer discovers the danger or injured victims report their experiences to a government agency. The government will frequently then conduct an investigation and determine if the product should be pulled off the market.
Who Is Watching?
There are currently several federal organizations who oversee product and consumer safety. These organziations are:
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – This agency oversees over 15,000 consumer products which are used in the home, schools, recreation, and sports. Products which the CPSC has jurisdiction over include:
- Children’s products
- Electrical/Electronic equipment
- Exercise/Sports equipment
- Household goods
- Lighting products
- Outdoor products
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), oversees issues with all motor vehicles and related equipment, tires, and child safety seats.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has jurisdiction over the following products:
- Blood and plasma products
- Medical devices
- Other biologics
- Veterinary products
- Food.gov partners with several federal agencies to provide information to consumers regarding any food alerts or recalls, as well as any outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. These agencies include:
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FSIS issues recalls on meat, poultry, and egg products.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA issues recalls on other food as well as pet food and animal feed.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has jurisdiction over recalls involving fungicides, pesticides, rodenticides, and vehicle transmission testing.
- The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) investigates consumer complaints about recreational boats and related equipment. The Coast Guard is in charge of all recreational boats and personal watercrafts, equipment installed by boat manufacturers, and all boating safety issues.
Defective Product Injuries
Unfortunately, product defects and dangers are often discovered – or disclosed by corporations – only after substantial harm has come to consumers. If you or a family member has been injured by a dangerous or defective product, contact a qualified Virginia personal injury attorney to determine if you have a potential claim against the manufacturer.