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What is Failure to Warn in a Product Liability Claim?

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Product manufacturers must adequately warn consumers on how to use their products safely. If a manufacturer doesn't provide an adequate warning about a product, they may be responsible if something terrible happens because of that product.

As a product liability attorney, I have worked on strict liability cases where people have been seriously injured because the manufacturers did not warn them about the potential risks of a product. This article will discuss what you need to know about "failure to warn" cases.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Manufacturers must provide adequate warnings to consumers about any risks associated with using their products, even if the risks are not obvious
  • If a product has injured you, you may be able to recover damages by filing a failure to warn claim against the manufacturer
  • Warning labels must be clear and concise. They must also explain the dangers and risks associated with using the product

What is Failure To Warn?

A person holding a boxA failure to warn is when a product fails to provide an adequate warning to the public about potential risks associated with its product.

In that case, manufacturers may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result. This is known as "failure to warn" and is governed by a set of laws called "product liability" [1].

It is important to note that manufacturers must provide adequate warnings to consumers about any risks associated with using their products, even if the risks are not obvious.

Failure to Warn in Strict Products Liability Lawsuits

If you get injured by a product, the product liability laws say that the company that made the product is responsible, even if they didn't care less. The law also says that companies have to warn about their products so people know about any dangers [2].

One of the most common disputes in product liability failure to warn cases is whether the risk of the injury the plaintiff suffered was obvious or if it was completely unpredictable.

"Regardless of whether the theory of liability is asserted via a negligence or strict liability claim, the central issue is whether or not the warning in question was adequate."
- Michael Drahos, Personal Injury Lawyer

Failure to Warn in Negligence Cases

A businessman talking to another businessmanIn most states, the law says that you can sue a company if they make a product that hurts you. But in a few states, the law is different. In these states, you can only sue if the company doesn't give enough warning about the product. You also have to show that not having enough warning caused your injury.

The central issue in product liability law cases is whether the risk that caused the injury was so evident that no warning was necessary or the consumer could not have predicted the risk.

A state's rules will not make a plaintiff's lawsuit more or less likely to succeed because the plaintiff will still be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer. However, if the state follows negligence rules, the plaintiff will not be able to sue anyone who showed a warning about the product.

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See all related product liability claims and defective medical device lawsuits we've taken on.

Characteristics of a Failure to Warn Lawsuit

To file a personal injury lawsuit for a failure to warn, you must show that the defendant was aware or should have been aware of the danger, that they failed to warn you of the danger, and that, as a result, you were injured.

The manufacturers are all under legal liability if: 

  • The manufacturer was aware of the danger posed by the product due to a product defect.
  • The manufacturer was responsible for warning consumers about the product's danger.
  • The manufacturer had a duty to warn people about the product, but they did not do this.
  • The plaintiff got injured because the manufacturer did not warn them about the danger, or there was a wrongful death.

How To Win a Failure to Warn Case?

A person holding documents with a coworker on the side

To win a failure to warn case, a defendant must be able to argue to defeat a plaintiff's product liability failure to warn case. These arguments may include:

  • The defendant was unaware of the danger of the product.
  • The defendant was not responsible for warning people about the danger.
  • The defendant did not fail to warn people of the danger.
  • The plaintiff did not get injured because of a warning that was not good enough.
  • The warning was actually displayed.

If a product injures someone, the defendant may say they were not aware of the danger. The defendant can argue that it would not be obvious to a reasonable person how the product should be used. 

The manufacturer can be expected to know about dangers and warn people who might use the product in a way that is not obvious. Other arguments include:

  • Design flaws in the product can make it difficult for people to use it.
  • Misuse of the product.

As previously noted, the duty to warn does not apply to obvious dangers to the ordinary user. There may be a duty to warn against the dangers of certain uses of a product that are not apparent to the user.

The warning on a product is required to be:

  • Clear
  • Informative
  • Useful and concise

If someone is injured because of something the manufacturer did, they cannot be held responsible if it was actually the person's own fault if they suffered from:

  • A previous medical problem
  • An injury at work
  • Another type of injury that is not caused by the product

A warning label must be placed where it can be seen by the people who will use the product. If a warning is on the product and the person didn't see it, then the defendant may not be liable.


What are the elements for an action based on strict liability?

The three elements for an action based on strict liability include demonstrating that the product was defective and that the defect made the product dangerous or caused the plaintiff's injury.

What is the tort that has been committed?

The tort that has been committed is negligence.

Who can be held liable for injuries caused by a defective product?

The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer can be held liable for injuries caused by a defective product.

Do You Want To File a Failure To Warn Lawsuit?

If you want to file a failure to warn lawsuit because a product has injured you or a loved one, you may be able to file a failure to warn lawsuit with our law firm, Schmidt & Clark, LLP. 

We have a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you through our legal services, your rights, and options. Whatever you will tell us will be protected under the attorney-client relationship privilege when you contact us today for a free consultation.



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