Summer is here, and it’s time for you to head to the pool, the beach, or any other nearby watering hole for some relaxation and relief from the heat. Among the things you pack for a day of sun, sand and surf are your sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, hats, floatation devices, and other recreational necessities. You bring these items along to protect your family. You bring them to make sure that everyone has fun and, more importantly, stays safe. You bring them because you trust that the manufacturers have sold you quality products. Unfortunately, not all products are created equal, and sometimes the very items you buy to ensure the safety of your loved ones can do more harm than good.
Take, for example, Aqua-Leisure Industries’ Inflatable Baby Float. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explained in its July 2 recall that the product is a hazard to consumers, because the leg straps on the device can unexpectedly tear and drop an infant into the water, as reported in 31 incidents. While Aqua-Leisure did not purposely market a product with the goal of endangering children, their negligent sale of the device creates a risk of drowning. The company is recommending that the Baby Float be returned for a full refund or destroyed by the consumer to prevent further use. Although this recall does not apply to all of the company’s merchandise, it’s always a good rule of thumb to inspect products before use and to only allow children to use them with supervision.
While a product recall is the preferred solution for a company that discovers a product defect, it does not absolve the company from responsibility. In fact, contrary to clearing the company of its responsibility, a product recall often provokes lawsuits. Even if a product has been recalled for several months, the consumer still has the right to seek legal action if harmed by the product. Recalls do not generally have expiration dates, so if you find you have been wrongly injured by a product you trusted, seek advice from an attorney who can protect your interests. However, bear in mind that the statute of limitation after an injury is two years in California (and sometimes much less depending on the type of defendant), so it is best to seek advice immediately after an accident. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you must do it within the time period allowed by the statute, or you will automatically forfeit compensation.
By exercising caution, consumers and their families can enjoy a safe and happy summer.