Warning Defect Laws

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 What Is a Warning Defect?

Warning defects, also referred to as warning label defects, are used as the basis of defective products liability lawsuits. Warnings for products may include:

  • Warning labels;
  • Descriptions on the outside packaging of products;
  • Other written means of warning consumers.

Consumers may be seriously injured by products with warning defects. Injuries caused by warning defects apply especially in cases where products are already dangerous to use on their own, for example, products that have:

  • Sharp edges, such as knives;
  • Heated surfaces;
  • Toxic chemicals.

It is important to note that a warning defect is only one of the three categories of product defects. The other two categories are design defects, meaning that the product was designed poorly, and manufacturing defects when a product has been incorrectly manufactured.

What Would Qualify as a Warning Defect?

There are numerous ways in which warning defect issues may arise. Examples of common situations in which claims for warning defects arise include when:

  • The manufacturer completely failed to affix any type of warning label at all;
  • The instructions on the warning label contained mistakes or were unclear;
  • The warning label is attached or posted on the product in a way that makes it impractical or impossible to read, for example:
    • The font is too small;
    • The font is not easily noticeable;
    • The font is very light in color;
  • The warning label that is attached is for an entirely different product.

Any of these types of warning defects can easily lead to a lawsuit if an individual is injured directly due to the warning defect. In most cases, a victim is required to prove both the product and the product’s warning label were the cause of their injuries.

In addition, the victim is also required to prove that they did not contribute to their injuries by their own carelessness or negligence. Otherwise, the victim’s case may not be successful, and they may not be able to recover damages for their injuries.

What Is a Warning Label Lawsuit?

Warning label lawsuits are brought by consumers of products when they are injured. Examples of consumer products include, but are not limited to:

  • Food;
  • Drink;
  • Drugs;
  • Electronic devices;
  • Mechanical devices.

Federal laws provide that product manufacturers and suppliers are required to provide adequate warnings of any dangers that a product may pose. Warnings are typically provided in the form of a label describing the dangers to ensure that consumers are aware of those dangers that are associated with using the product.

Furthermore, when a product poses a danger that is not considered to be apparent or obvious to a general consumer, federal laws provide that the manufacturer of the product has to place a warning label on the product. Although the label has to warn of the danger, federal laws do not require warning labels for every single hypothetical danger that is associated with every product.

For example, if the danger posed by a product is obvious, such as a knife being sharp, there is no obligation to warn. Generally, a duty to provide a warning is only required for dangers that an ordinary consumer could not anticipate.

In general, a manufacturer has a duty to warn when:

  • The product is inherently dangerous;
  • The manufacturer knows or should have known of the danger;
  • The danger exists when the product is being used in an expected manner;
  • The danger would not be reasonably obvious to the general consumer.

The warning provided must adequately instruct consumers regarding dangers that are posed by general product uses. In addition, the manufacturer has to provide adequate instructions on how to safely use the product.

Who Could Be Held Liable for a Failure to Warn Claim?

The liability for failure to warn may be imposed on any of the parties that are involved in the chain of distribution of that product. This liability applies even when the parties found responsible were not the party that actually created or caused the defect.

Examples of common parties that may be held liable for failure to warn claims include:

  • The manufacturer of the product;
  • The manufacturer of component parts;
  • The distributor of the product;
  • A retailer who sells the product;
  • A wholesaler of the product;
  • A party that was responsible for the installation or assembly of the product.

Any of the parties listed above may be held strictly liable for failing to provide an adequate warning for products sold to consumers if the consumer suffers an injury resulting from a lack of warning on the product. To be held liable, the party must have actually sold or used the product in their regular course of business.

In other words, the alleged responsible party will not be held liable if they are just a casual product seller. For example, an individual who is selling products is their home garage sale.

Failure to warn is classified as a strict liability tort. Strict liability is a legal theory that holds parties responsible for their actions or products without requiring a plaintiff to prove fault or negligence.

In these types of cases, even when the defendant took all of the necessary precautions and followed all safety requirements, a defendant may still be held liable for the injuries a plaintiff sustained.

What Are Some of the Legal Remedies for a Warning Label Defect Claim?

As previously noted, many cases involving warning label defects are associated with a claim for a physical injury that resulted from the warning defect. Therefore, victims who can show that the warning defect caused their injuries can typically receive a monetary damages award.

A monetary damages award can allow an individual to recover monetary compensation for their losses, such as:

  • Medical expenses, both past and future;
  • Lost earnings potential;
  • Various other costs were incurred that were directly related to the injury.

In some cases, a warning defect claim may cause a product to be subject to a recall. When a product is recalled, it must be removed from the market or the stores where it is sold, and the public must be notified of the recall.

The recalled product can no longer be legally sold in commerce. Typically, consumers who have purchased the product will be able to obtain a refund from the company.

Manufacturers may also receive fines for violating product liability laws. A manufacturer should consider hiring a lawyer to review or write their warning labels if they have not already.

A defective products attorney can help a manufacturer avoid facing a lawsuit for a warning label defect.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help With Issues Involving a Warning Defect?

If you believe you have been injured as a result of a warning label defect, it is important to consult with a defective products attorney to see if you have a claim. Your attorney can guide you smoothly through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.

Your attorney will be able to prepare your case, determine what remedies you may be able to recover, negotiate on your behalf during settlement arrangements, or in the alternative, represent you in court should it become necessary. Throughout the entire legal process, your lawyer will represent you and provide you with valuable legal advice.

It is important to remember that reporting a warning label defect can help you recover as well as help ensure that the same product does not injure other consumers. If other individuals have already been injured because of the warning label defect, you may be able to become a member of a class action lawsuit.

Your attorney will be able to determine whether or not your claim is eligible to be a class action lawsuit based on the warning defect.


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