What is "Failure to Warn" in a Product Liability Case? - Cok Kinzler

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February 22,2022

What is "Failure to Warn" in a Product Liability Case?

Companies have a responsibility to consumers – a responsibility to make safe products that function as advertised. But when there is possible danger from a product and a company doesn’t disclose that, there’s potential to cause severe harm.

Sure, it might seem like some warning labels are so obvious they’re silly, like a “coffee may be hot” label on a cup, or “do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw” on a chainsaw. But injury caused by a product used in a reasonable way is no laughing matter. That’s where the concept of failure to warn comes in.


What Are Product Warnings?

You’ve probably seen them on the packaging of home appliances, tech gadgets and tools. You can find them on product labels, tags and stickers – those warnings about hot surfaces, harmful chemicals to eat or inhale, and sharp blades on spinning saws. Sometimes they can seem obvious, but oftentimes they are included to ensure the safety of product users. Without them, seemingly benign objects can become dangerous causes of injury.


What is Failure to Warn?

Failure to warn is exactly what it sounds like. If a company doesn’t warn a user or consumer about potential danger from its product, that company should be held responsible for any injury that results.

And the company can’t just think about a product’s intended use. It also has to consider how a person might reasonably misuse the product—like inhaling while using a pesticide or standing on the back of a stroller without knowing it can’t support their weight. Determining reasonable misuse can be complicated, with many layers to untangle. Skilled legal counsel can help you get to the bottom of your unique situation.


Strict Liability and What it Means for Your Case

Most product liability falls under “strict liability,” which basically means that a company is liable when the plaintiff can prove that the product itself is defective. “Defective” in a legal sense means that an item doesn’t work properly, or it doesn’t contain enough warnings, making it unreasonably dangerous to the user.

It doesn’t matter if the company was negligent (failed to act in a way that a person with ordinary prudence would have in the same circumstances) or not. In this case, simply failing to put adequate warning labels on an item is considered a product defect.


When a Company is NOT Required to Warn

Matches cause fires, knives are sharp, and both can certainly cause harm because of it. But in both cases, the risk of injury is obvious, so the company making these items likely doesn’t have to warn about it. But even in some situations that seem so obvious they aren’t worth mentioning, a company still has the responsibility to warn about a risk. And if they don’t, they can be held liable.

Don’t let an injury to yourself or a loved one go unnoticed, swept under the rug of a large corporation that should be brought to justice. If you’ve been harmed by a product without any warning that it may cause danger, you should seek legal support. Reach out to Cok Kinzler for a free consultation on your product liability case, and find your way to due process.

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