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Consumer Protection Laws and Agencies

Every year, consumers are injured while using a defective product or consuming dangerous food. A product can be defective in several ways:

  • There could be a defect caused by a problem in manufacturing.
  • The product could have been poorly designed.
  • A defect in packaging could make a product unsafe (for example, food packaging).
  • Some products are safe for one purpose, but not for another. They require a warning. Failure to warn is a defect.
  • Some products require instructions in order for the consumer to use them properly and safely. Failure to provide adequate instruction is a defect.

Consumer Safety Legislation

The Consumer Products Safety Act is the most significant consumer protection statute. It makes selling, distributing, or importing products that don't comply with safety regulations illegal. Violating safety regulations can result in civil and criminal penalties for the company.

In addition to the federal consumer safety laws, there are state consumer protection laws. See The National Consumer Law Center for a compilation of these laws.

There are also federal statutes for specific industries and product categories. These industries include:

  • The automotive industry, tires and seat belts (under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • Medical devices, drugs, and food (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Cosmetics (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Industrial products and farm products (Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
  • Chemicals (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board)
  • Aircraft (Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Boats (U.S. Coast Guard)

Consumer Product Safety Agencies

The following is a listing of federal consumer protection agencies with which a personal injury attorney might consult. This list includes the consumer protection laws and regulations they issue and the services they provide. (See Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases to learn how the law protects consumers from dangerous products.)

  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission addresses “unreasonable risks" of injury from hazardous consumer products. It does this by developing uniform safety standards and conducting research. The Commission issues consumer product safety alerts and product recalls. The national Consumer Product Safety Line is 800-638-2772. You can also fill out a consumer complaint form to report an unsafe product.

State Safety Investigation Resources

  • State Offices of Consumer Protection: Every state has a consumer protection division. Find the office for your state. These departments also look at unfair business practices and deceptive business practices. When you visit a state page, you will find links to state consumer protection offices and city consumer protection offices.
  • State police and highway patrol may provide information on state regulations of motor vehicles. They may have records of locations where accidents occur.
  • Most state fire marshals issue fire safety standards and basic building design and construction standards.
  • State Commissioners of Public Safety maintain traffic accident data. This can be used to identify defectively designed roadways.

Learn More About Consumer Protection Laws From an Attorney

Understanding how consumer protection laws ensure product safety is an important way to enforce those laws. If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, contact an experienced consumer protection attorney today.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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