No Recovery, You Owe Us Nothing
A car swerves out of control without warning, killing the driver and seriously injuring the passenger. A grandfather relying on his implanted defibrillator abruptly collapses from a heart attack. A child playing with a brightly-colored toy is suddenly choking, and suffers irreversible brain damage.
Tragic accidents, we say. Circumstances that happened by chance rather than design, that could not have been foreseen.
Too often, what we call accidents are not a matter of chance, and could have been – should have been – foreseen. Dangerous defects can originate in the design of a best-selling automobile, a grandfather’s defibrillator leads, a child’s harmless-looking toy. Some product defects are built in, the result of manufacturers’ poor quality materials or shoddy workmanship. In still other cases, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers fail to warn consumers about potential dangers and inappropriate product use.
Greedy corporations caught designing, manufacturing, or distributing defective products often have known all along the dangers their products posed. But they are so busy looking at their own bottom line that they don’t even see the men, women, and children whose lives have been lost or ruined. That’s why Congress legislates product safety standards, why federal agencies act to enforce these regulations, why states pass consumer protection laws . . . and why Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley stands up for the rights of victims and families devastated by defective products.
Unfortunately, defective design and manufacturing are far too common, resulting in countless injuries and deaths to consumers each year. The list of potentially defective products runs the gamut from A to Z, from asbestos and baby bouncers to pharmaceuticals such as Yaz and Zyprexa. Some of these products make national headlines, but others go relatively unnoticed until the tally of deaths or a widely-publicized jury verdict catches public attention.
One of the most common and most lethal consumer risks is posed by defective design and manufacture of automobiles and other motor vehicles.
Perilous product defects are commonly found, as well, in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Still other defective products include toys and baby products that cause tragic death or injury to infants and children. Many of these defective products are manufactured in foreign countries, where American corporations bypass health and safety measures in the name of profit.
Charged with enforcing safety standards, federal watchdog agencies have the power to recall defective products.
While individual states have their own consumer protection laws, such as “lemon laws” related to automobile defects, a handful of federal agencies are charged with promulgating regulations and enforcing federal health and safety legislation. Here are agencies whose job is to protect consumers from defective products:
CPSC upholds mandatory government safety standards related to products for children (such as strollers, cribs, etc.), toys, household goods, outdoor products, sports and recreation products, and others.
Potentially dangerous products under the EPA’s jurisdiction include pesticides, rodenticides, and fungacides.
The FDA is charged with researching, approving, and regulating foods, drugs, cosmetics, radiation, medical devices, and veterinary medications.
The NHTSA, under the US Department of Transportation, conducts research, writes regulations, and educates the public on issues related to motor vehicles – including buses, cars, motorcycles and trucks – and the performance of motor vehicle equipment.
The US Coast Guard handles regulations and enforcement related to boats and boating equipment such as life vests.
But for innocent victims of accidents caused by product defects, consumer protection efforts are too little, too late.
Government agencies charged with enforcing federal safety legislation do not always act aggressively to remove defective products from the market. The NHTSA has been accused of dragging its feet during the Bush Administration, but current Secretary Ray LaHood is proving more proactive. For example, proposals advanced in the wake of the Toyota recall investigation include requiring brake override systems, standardizing operation of keyless ignition systems, and installing event data recorders in all passenger vehicles.
The US Food and Drug Administration has been under attack for relying on research conducted by the very pharmaceutical companies they regulate, basing their decisions on insufficient research, and being quick to approve but slow to remove potentially lethal products from the market. Yet government officials continue to turn a blind eye. For example, a bill setting stricter standards for medical devices was introduced into Congress in 2008 and again in 2009. But the Medical Device Safety Act remained on the back burner, languishing in committee where many bills die without ever being voted on in the House and Senate.
If a loved one is killed or you are injured in an accident caused by a product defect, you may be able to hold the manufacturer, retailer, or distributor liable through the civil justice system.
Attorneys at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley have more than 40 years experience with product liability cases, representing victims of accidents caused by automobile design defects, faulty medical devices, and defective household products.
If you would like to discuss the potential merit of your case with an attorney at Searcy Denney, fill out the Contact Form or call us at 800-780-8607 and a staff member will phone you to schedule a free initial consultation.