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Overview of a product recall

Many residents of Riverside, California, have probably heard of product recalls, especially when one of them gets announced through the news media. However, even if a Californian winds up having to take a product back for a repair or refund, they might understand exactly how the matter got to that point in the first place.

One of the first things to remember about recalls is that, at least on the federal level, no single agency is responsible for them. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission is likely responsible for the broadest range of products, which agency oversees product safety really depends on what type of product is involved. What this means in practice as the recall rules and procedures vary slightly across the board. California agencies may also regulate product safety under their own, more stringent standards.

One big thing that they all have in common, however, is that they put the primary responsibility for pulling a dangerous product from the shelves on the company that manufactured it. The vast majority of recalls are done voluntarily by companies once the government agency in question becomes aware of a safety issue. The company will get the agency's blessing on how it proposes to fix the safety problem, but the details are largely up to the company. In many cases, the company even self-reports the safety issue to a regulatory authority.

There have been some cases in which a company simply disagrees its product is no longer safe, in which case the regulatory agency will ordinarily have to go to court and get an order requiring a recall. If a company disputes a recall without a really good legal reason or delays the process, steep administrative fines are also a possibility.

What recalls do not do is compensate Californians who got injured or sickened by a defective product. The only remedy a recall offers is a refund or either the replacement or repair of a defective product. To get compensation for injuries, a products liability lawsuit may be necessary.

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