What does “failure to warn” mean in product liability?
Product Liability - April 14, 2022
When a manufacturer knows that their product may be used incorrectly by people in a way that could hurt them, they must provide sufficient warning to the consumer. A good example is the label on a set of Christmas lights that says “Warning: Do Not Leave Lights on Unattended.”
The manufacturer knows that what many might deem a “reasonable use” of their product – leaving the Christmas lights on for a few hours while the user is out of the house – introduces a risk of fire, so they provide sufficient warning.
It’s important to seek legal advice after suffering an injury or loss due to a product malfunctioning or causing a reaction. Manufacturers have a duty to provide reasonably safe products, and reporting a product can prevent other injuries or damages.
Who may be held liable for a failure to warn claim?
If a product poses a risk to the consumer, the producer has a duty to warn the consumer. However, liability doesn’t always fall solely on the manufacturer. Other potentially liable parties include the product distributor and retailer.
Each product liability case is different, so it’s advised that you speak with an attorney to discuss the unique facts of your case.
Failure to warn in strict liability cases
In product liability law, “strict liability” means that a defendant (manufacturer, distributor, or retailer) can be held liable for any injuries or damages that a plaintiff suffers, regardless of whether or not the defendant is at fault. It may be a result of manufacturing defects, design defects, or marketing defects.
You and your attorney must prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous in design, manufacture, or distribution and that the product was intended to reach you without any alterations or modifications. If strict liability applies, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Defenses to failure to warn claims
While the consumer might have a cause of action when a producer fails to warn of a danger, there are some defenses the producer can assert.
1. The risk was obvious
When a consumer would reasonably be expected to recognize a risk and engages in a dangerous activity anyway, they assume some or all of the risk of injury.
For example, many hammers have two ends; one is used to hammer objects and the other is a claw that pulls nails out.
If the user were to try and hammer nails in with the claw end and were injured, the user would be liable for the injury. The risk of injury is obvious when using the wrong part of the hammer.
2. The misuse was not foreseeable
Producers have a duty to inform the end-user of dangers that are foreseeable, which means that they are a reasonable use that would be expected of the end-user.
Taking the example above with the hammer, it is not foreseeable that an end-user would try and hammer a nail using a completely improper technique that causes injury.
Warning against a misuse that is not foreseeable is not something that a producer can be expected to do, and this defense can help them avoid liability in a failure to warn case.
Injured by a defective product? Call us.
If you have been injured by a defective product, whether due to a failure to warn or because you were injured when using a product as it was meant to be used, you could be entitled to compensation.
The compensation you are entitled to includes your emergency medical bills and lost wages in the short term, as well as any long-term medical costs like treatment or medication, plus any impact your injuries might have had upon your ability to earn and support your family.
Calculating the amount of damages you are entitled to, collecting evidence to support them, then filing a successful claim takes quite a bit of time and effort. Working with an attorney takes the stress out of your day-to-day life. Your attorney steps into your shoes and takes over all negotiations and communications, handling your case from claim through compensation.
Working with an experienced Chicago product liability attorney from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates as soon as possible after your injury will support the best possible outcome in your case.
Call (800) 985-1819 to discuss your options.