You would expect that a consumer could hold the manufacturer, distributor or seller of a product responsible for injuries that occur if the product is defective. You have likely seen the media coverage of igniting cellphone batteries, exploding airbags and toppling furniture. Consumers have the right to seek compensation when products cause them harm or take the lives of loved ones.
What you may not realize is that a product does not need to be defective for the manufacturer or others to be liable for injuries you may suffer while using the product. This is because manufacturers owe you the duty of providing warnings about dangers that may not be so obvious in their products.
The duty to warn
You may be facing many burdens from an injury you suffered because you were unaware that using a product in a certain way could be harmful. If the product had included a simple warning, you may have been able to avoid the injury, the pain and suffering, and the financial consequences. In fact, if a product is safe to use provided there are appropriate instructions for avoiding potential harm, the law obliges the manufacturer to include those instructions.
Like many in Texas, you may find it overwhelming to open a new product and find page after page of directions for use and warnings about misuse. You may even feel that some of the instructions are ridiculous, and that common sense would dictate that a reasonable person would not use the product in such a way. However, what is obvious to you may not be so clear to other consumers. It is better to be safe with many warnings than to risk serious injury.
What is a defective warning?
Not every product requires warnings for proper use, but a manufacturer may include them nonetheless. The law stipulates a product must have warnings if a reasonable user would be unaware of the danger present in a product. A warning is defective in these cases:
- The warning is unclear, inaccurate or confusing.
- The consumer is unable to see the label or read the warning.
- The manufacturer did not include a warning.
Despite a defective warning, you have the responsibility to use reasonable care with any product. Using a product in a way different from its intended purpose or disregarding a warning label may severely hinder a claim that the manufacturer’s warning was defective.
Cases involving defective and dangerous products can involve complex factual and legal issues. If you have been injured by such a product, seek out an attorney with extensive product liability experience.