What Is a Voluntary Recall?

Product Liability | March 29, 2021

When a government agency issues a product recall, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Texas residents should take it very seriously. If these entities find it necessary to take certain products out of circulation, there is a chance that the product could cause serious harm to consumers.

There are multiple types of recalls that the government may issue. One type of recall, known as a voluntary recall, often creates confusion due to the less serious nature of the term. However, voluntary recalls are just as serious as mandatory recalls.

What Is a Voluntary Recall?

Types of Product Defects

Manufacturers, distributors, and other entities along the supply chain have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe to use. If a product has a defect and injures a consumer, these entities could be financially liable for the victim’s damages.

There are three types of product defects:

  • Manufacturing defects: A product may sustain a defect during the manufacturing process, rendering the product unsafe to use. For example, a batch of cough syrup can become defective if a toxic chemical contaminates it.
  • Design defects: In other cases, a product’s design is inherently defective and unreasonably dangerous. A heated blanket that short-circuits at its highest setting or an infant’s toy with very small parts are examples of design defects.
  • Failure to warn: Manufacturers have a responsibility to warn consumers against foreseeable product dangers and must include proper warnings and product instructions. If these instructions or warnings are inadequate, the product is defective.

Voluntary Recalls versus Mandatory Recalls

If a product has a defect and could harm consumers, the CPSC has the right to issue a mandatory recall of the product. These recalls require consumers to return the defective products to the manufacturer. However, it is not in a manufacturer’s best interest to have the CPSC issue a mandatory recall; these requests can be costly and damaging to the company’s reputation.

Voluntary recalls, on the other hand, are issued by the manufacturer itself. These recalls are voluntary only in the fact that the manufacturer ordered them instead of the CPSC. Voluntary recalls can be just as dangerous and serious as mandatory ones.

Many companies issue voluntary recalls to limit their legal liability; by reducing the number of consumers who have the product in their homes, the manufacturer can reduce the chances of an injury occurring. However, consumers who suffer an injury due to their defective products retain the right to pursue legal action, even if the CPSC did not issue the recall itself.

Legal Options for Defective Product Victims

If you suffered an injury due to a dangerous or defective product, you may be eligible to pursue financial compensation through a product liability lawsuit. To prove your right to compensation, you will need to gather evidence to prove four key elements.

  • The product is defective.
  • You suffered an injury.
  • The product’s defect caused your injury.
  • You were using the product as the manufacturer intended.

Proving these elements can be difficult without a Houston product liability attorney on your side. A lawyer can enlist the help of expert witnesses who can evaluate the defective product and testify on its dangerous or defective nature. He or she can use documents such as medical records, voluntary recall documents, and surveillance footage to craft a compelling case in your favor.

After seeking medical attention, contact a lawyer to discuss your case and legal options.