It has come to recent attention that a legal firm may be looking for a connection between baby carriers and hip dysplasia in order to build a class action lawsuit. While this seems like a farfetched claim, and there is no known medical link between carrier use and hip dysplasia, there is no way of knowing what the outcome would be of an attempted lawsuit.
The BCIA has put together this short informational guide so companies can be prepared ahead of time. An injury claim is going to go through your insurance company, so that’s the first place to start. If you don’t currently carry product liability insurance, this is an excellent example of why it is necessary. There are a number of insurance options listed on the BCIA site. If you are currently insured, this would be an excellent time to read over your policy’s fine print. For example, what are the limits of your coverage?
If your company is contacted by either an attorney or consumer claiming injury, it is important to take such a claim seriously.
- Document the claim accurately and thoroughly.
- Record the information using language like, “Customer states…” or “Customer claims…” instead of simply writing “Child has hip dysplasia from baby carrier.”
- Do not make any admissions.
- Do not apologize for your product. (You can be empathetic to a parent, but do not make an admission. The parent could have been coached by a plaintiff’s attorney to try to obtain an admission and could be recording your call.)
- Request medical and other documentation that they claim supports their view.
- If the caller is an attorney, simply take the name and information and other details but do not engage in a substantive conversation. Instead, move on to the next step.
After collecting the basic information alleged by the customer, your next step is usually to contact your insurance broker who will advise you of whether it is time to file a formal claim with the insurance company. (You may wish to first consult your own attorney to determine whether the information seems credible enough to contact the insurance broker.) It is your insurance broker’s job to understand your coverage and provide guidance about whether they recommend filing a claim. A failure to contact your insurance company in a timely fashion could become later grounds for them to deny your claim. If the claim proceeds to a lawsuit, the insurance company usually assigns its own defense attorneys to defend the claim and those costs are included in your coverage. (Some coverage may allow you to select your own attorney.)
If your company does begin to receive claims for hip dysplasia, you may wish to let the BCIA know so that we can track the issue for the industry as a whole and advise whether we are seeing any trends in the industry.
*This information has been prepared with the US market in mind. Other countries may have different best practices and legal requirements. If you are approached with a similar claim or situation and are outside the US, please get in touch with the BCIA and we will assist with an appropriate plan of action.