When you spend your hard-earned money on a product, you are hoping it works as promised, stands up to its expected use and generally provides you with some kind of convenience or enjoyment. You are probably not thinking about whether buying it would invite disaster into your home, or create a threat to you or your family. And yet, thousands of products are recalled every year due to flaws that can make them dangerous.
Some are famously publicized, such as major pharmaceutical or automotive recalls that result in widespread legal action by those who are injured. But others may be products you already own and do not even know are hazardous.
To help consumers prevent accidents before they happen, numerous organizations and websites are available for researching current product recalls. Some of the most notable are:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission site, which allows you to search by product name, company name or product type
The Babycenter.com Product Recall Finder, which contains a database of products for children that have failed to meet safety standards
A mobile phone app available from recalls.gov that allows to you check for product recalls while shopping in stores, buying used merchandise, evaluating a day care center and so on. The site combines information from six federal agencies covering products ranging from motor vehicles to cosmetics.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration site, which lists products regulated by the FDA that have been recalled in the previous 60 days.
Consumers who suffer injuries due to products that are defective in design, manufacturing, or marketing (such as inadequate safety labeling) have a right to sue the responsible companies — some or all of them — for damages. Companies are generally subject to strict liability, which means it is not necessary to prove that they were negligent in order to collect. However, if it is found that the company acted with intentional disregard for the safety of consumers, it may be hit with punitive damages as well.