When you purchase a product and it malfunctions in such a way that presents a safety hazard to the typical user, you can and should report this product to the appropriate Federal Authority. But which one is the right authority? There are several federal government branches that regulate different products and there are some products that are left to the states to regulate. Which one you report to depends on whether it is a consumer product, vehicle, prescription drug, food, pesticide, or chemical. If you are unsure who to talk to, a product liability lawyer may be able to help you determine what steps to take after a defective product causes you injury or substantial loss.
How Do I Report an Unsafe Consumer Product?
If you have purchased a consumer product that is unsafe or defective, you can and should report the problem to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by visiting the saferproducts.gov website’s unsafe product reporting link or by calling their hotline: (800) 638-2772. Reporting defective products to the CPSC enables them to investigate the issue, notify the manufacturer, and determine whether a product recall, fine, or regulatory change may be necessary. Some examples of recently recalled consumer products that would fall under their jurisdiction include:
- The Bissell Vacuums
- Nextgen Bicycles
- DailySale High-Powered Magnetic Balls
You can look up consumer product recalls on their website.
How Do I Report an Automobile Defect or Car Safety Device Issue?
To report a vehicle defect or issue with a car safety device, you may submit a report online or by calling their Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236. Automobiles and car safety devices such as seat belts, child seats, and tires are regulated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA). They are open 8 am to 8 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday. They also have a separate number for hearing impaired consumers (800) 424-9153. You may look up current and past vehicle recalls on the NHTSA recall page. If you suffered serious injury or death due to a problem with a recalled vehicle, contact a Houston vehicle defect attorney to discuss your rights.
How Do I Report a Defective Drug?
Adverse reactions to and side effects from a prescription or over-the-counter drug may be reported to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using their website’s Voluntary Reporting Form. The FDA relies on testing and data supplied by the manufacturer in approving drugs. Sometimes the data they receive does not identify unanticipated risks or side effects. Additionally, off-label use of drugs once they are placed into the stream of commerce may result in unanticipated or unintended consequences to the drug user. Thus, reporting problems with medications is important for the FDA to evaluate the continued safety of drugs. If you have suffered a serious injury due to the use of a medication as prescribed or intended, a defective drug lawyer can discuss with you whether there has been a recall or whether the product may be the subject of a mass tort lawsuit or class action.
How Do I Report a Problem with a Food Product?
For food poisoning, you should contact your local (state) health department. Suspected issues with certain ingredients in a product being sold and/or the effects thereof may be reported to the FDA in the same manner a drug would be reported above.
How Do I Report Products that Harm the Environment?
Any sort of dangerous events involving chemical releases, oil spills, or radiation leaks that pose an immediate threat to human health or the environment may be reported to the United States Environmental Protection Agency National Response Center online or by calling (800) 424-8802. This would include the improper use or dumping of harmful chemicals or pesticides. If you and/or your property are directly harmed by the event, a toxic tort lawyer can discuss your options with you. Major releases and events like oil spills and toxic dumping have been the catalyst for major toxic tort lawsuits and clean-ups. Some current examples of these include the Camp Lejeune Contamination cases and the AFFF (firefighter foam) mass tort litigation, and the PFAS class action.
Should I Contact the Manufacturer?
Check for a recall first. If there have been prior reports, they will often advise you who else needs to be contacted. If there is no recall and there are no injuries or substantial property loss involved, you may wish to check the company’s website for contact information when you have an issue with a product. If you suffer a serious injury or substantial property loss, you should consult your own product liability lawyer to determine whether you may have a legal right to be compensated for your losses. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers have been assisting victims of serious injuries and substantial property loss due to defective products since `979. We offer a free consultation and, if we take the case, we work on a contingency fee basis which means we charge no attorney fees not expenses unless we make a recovery.