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Products Liability: Failure to Warn


There are numerous products on the consumer market that are inherently dangerous. Yet they are sold every day and often those who suffer injury as a result of their use may not actually be eligible to recover personal injury damages.

Meat cleavers, lawn mowers, sundry power tools and even household cleaners all pose specific hazards, but only certain conditions precipitate a valid personal injury claim. Manufacturers and distributors of many products seen as inherently dangerous must by law provide warning of the danger inherent in the products they put on the market.

If an injury occurs in the use of a product where no such warning is made clear, liability can be established under the legal theory of ‘failure to warn'. Failure to warn assigns responsibility to manufacturers and distributors (and in some cases, marketers) of products that may by nature pose a specific hazard.

Because of the inherent danger in products with small, perhaps removable components in the presence of a child, some children's products often have warnings about any choking hazards they present. If no such warning has been clearly provided in the product's packaging and perhaps other marketing collateral, the manufacturer and any other entity responsible for the sale and/or distribution of the product may be liable for any injury resulting from a child choking on those pieces.

Failure to Warn is a theory that can apply not only to product packaging or marketing but also general media regarding a product's use. Years ago, when it became commonplace for pharmaceutical companies to advertise branded prescription medications in print, on television and/or the radio, a given portion of that advertisement had to be dedicated to the side effects and other hazards of using the drugs they promoted. Without such warnings, the assumption would be made that, because it is medication and meant to heal, it was safe to use.

Under Failure to Warn, liability is also contingent upon the responsibility of the consumer to utilize the product in the manner in which it was intended. If you utilize a portable generator indoors, for instance, counter to the instructions and general logic, any resulting injury or harm is largely considered your own responsibility.

So you see that with the manufacturer's responsibility to warn of inherent dangers in the use of a product comes also the consumer's responsibility to carefully observe those warnings and use the product as it was intended.

If you have a question about product liability or would like to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss a product liability case, call the skilled attorneys of Panio Law Offices at (708) 928-8680. We can help.

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