An item you received as a gift could be broken or defective, or even recalled by the company that produced it.
In 2021 alone, there were over 400 recalls of food, medical, and cosmetic products reported by FDA-regulated companies. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls around 300 products per year, and many consumers don’t even know and continue to use those products.
If you received a defective gift, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious about taking legal action. It can help prevent other consumers from getting the same defective items.
If you received a defective gift and are wondering what to do, we recommend taking the steps listed below.
1. Document Everything
The first thing you should do is gather every piece of information you have. This could be a gift receipt, an order confirmation email, a packing slip with a receipt, or something else, but it can all help you build your case.
For example, say you are getting married soon, and you receive a stand mixer for your kitchen from your wedding registry. When you open the box, the product does not turn on, or it does not have the correct pieces shown in the instruction manual. In this situation, you could take a photo of what you received and save that and the instruction manual.
Or, maybe you tried to turn it on and it made a strange noise. In that case, you could take a video of this happening. You could potentially injure yourself by using the damaged mixer.
2. Keep & Report the Item
The second thing that you should do is keep the item and report it. If the item was shipped to you, there was most likely some information in the box that explains who to call or email to report a damaged item.
The company will likely offer to send you a new item and may even ask for proof. This step is very simple but often overlooked – do NOT throw away the item. It may be tempting to simply return the item to get a replacement, but reporting the item and saving the proof is the most important part. That defective item could cause you or someone else harm, injury, sickness, or even death, and the item should be properly reported.
You can also report the item to the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Food and Drug Administration, depending on what type of gift it is. To report an unsafe and defective product to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you can call the toll-free hotline at (800) 638-2772, or (301) 595-7054 for the hearing and speech impaired.
To report an unsafe food product to the Food and Drug Administration, fill out a report on their website.
3. Speak with a Product Liability Lawyer
The third step is to speak with a product liability lawyer. The Florida product liability attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey, & Fronrath are ready and willing to speak with you about your defective gift complaint.
If you have received a defective gift and it has resulted in your sickness or injury, or the death of a loved one, a product liability lawyer can help you prepare your case and file a lawsuit. Even if the defective gift just puts you in danger of sickness, injury, or death, you may have a case.
The nuances of product liability laws in Florida can be confusing, but an experienced attorney can help you understand the law and your case. Call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey, & Fronrath at (561) 655-1990 for a free initial consultation.
Common Types of Defective Gifts
There are several main categories of defects that can be found in gifted products:
- Defects in design: This is when a product acts as intended, but a flaw in the design makes it dangerous.
- Defects in manufacturing: This is when a product does not act as intended due to a flaw in the manufacturing.
- Failure to warn: This is when a manufacturer of a product does not provide sufficient information on how to safely use the product or does not share that a product might be dangerous or pose a threat to your health or wellbeing.
There are several types of gifts that are commonly found to be defective. This information is important because it helps you to understand what to look out for when you receive a gift. Some common types of defective gifts include, but are not limited to:
- Clothing: You may be thinking, “How can a clothing defect cause a health risk?”, but it’s more common than you might think. Some clothing might not provide fire resistance or may pose a threat as a fire hazard. Some shoes might have inadequate traction, increasing your risk of slipping and falling and sustaining an injury. Clothing and shoes can also contain skin irritants or chemicals that can cause rashes or illnesses. These defective gifts might be caused by a defect in design or manufacturing. Or, the manufacturer may be completely aware of the health or safety risk but chose not to disclose the information to consumers.
- Food: Perhaps you received a tin of cookies as a holiday gift, or maybe you received a gift basket with food for your birthday. These food items could be contaminated with anything ranging from poisonous chemicals, shards of glass or metal, or hidden allergens that are unreported. Food gifts may seem innocuous but can cause serious illnesses or even death.
- Tools and appliances: A thoughtful gift of a kitchen appliance for a loved one who loves to cook could quickly become extremely dangerous or life-threatening if it is defective. Power tools gifted to a friend who loves DIY projects could easily become lethal. If a defective tool or appliance uses electricity it could cause serious risk of electrocution. Manufacturers of tools and appliances have a responsibility to provide clear and honest instructions for use and safety warnings or they could be liable for product defects or harm caused by the products.
- Toys and games: Toys and games are another common gift that can often be defective. Children are usually the recipients of these gifts, so the instructions and warnings must be especially clear. Small toy or game parts causing choking hazards, and toxic paints are some of the most common defects. Children can easily get seriously injured or worse due to dangerous defective toys or games.
Why is it important to report defective gifts?
If you or someone you know receives a defective gift, it is of the utmost importance to report the product. A missing or broken part on a product might seem insignificant, but it could be extremely dangerous or even life-threatening.
In 2021, there were over 6,000 reported injuries and illnesses from products that were recalled due to safety issues or defects. You could save others from illness, injury, or death by reporting it.
Reporting a product does not mean that you are not thankful for the gift, it simply means that you are looking out for the health and safety of yourself and others. Manufacturers should be made aware of defects and held accountable for their products’ threat to others or dangerous impact.
If you or a loved one received a defective gift that caused or risked illness, injury, or death, you may have a product liability claim. The experienced product liability attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey, & Fronrath can help you with your case.
Call (561) 655-1990 today to schedule a free initial consultation.