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When is a warning required on a dangerous product?

There are often lawsuits that may stem from injuries sustained as a result of a defect in the creation or design of a product. These lawsuits are initiated by products liability claims. However, many may be surprised to find out that a product with no design or manufacturing flaws may still give rise to a legal claim. Such claims result when improper or inadequate warnings or instructions are provided for the product and there is a foreseeable risk of injury from its use. Many may wonder what necessitates a product warning, and who are the responsible parties for creating and abiding by such warnings?

Although product designers or manufacturers typically include warnings for their products, they are not always needed. Warnings are only required when the product is dangerous, the manufacturer is aware of the dangerous condition, the danger exists when the product is used as intended and the use is reasonable and a reasonable user would not be aware of the danger. Obviousness of danger and reasonableness of use are subjective determinations that are made on a case-by-case basis taking into account the consumer's knowledge and experiences.

Manufacturers are subject to two duties regarding warnings for their products. They are required to warn about hidden dangers in the product, as well as provide adequate instruction regarding the safe and proper use of the product. Warnings should be specific, clear and conspicuously placed on the product. If a manufacturer fulfills its duties regarding properly warning a consumer, the consumer has a duty to follow the warnings provided.

Consumers that are injured by a product as a result of an inadequate warning may be entitled to collect compensation from the manufacturer. Such a claim can be complex, so an injured consumer may benefit from seeking the guidance of a personal injury attorney to assist them with evaluating and representing their claim.

Source: Findlaw, "Defects in Warnings," accessed on Apr. 5, 2015

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