You never expect to get hurt because of a product you buy or receive as a gift. Unfortunately, a lot of products in your home or at work are more dangerous than you’d expect. Without important instructions or warnings, you might use the product in a risky way without realizing it. When the product is unreasonably dangerous because it has insufficient warnings or instructions, you could be seriously hurt. After receiving medical care for your injuries, your next call should be to a product liability attorney. You can reach Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900, or through our online form. We offer free, no-risk consultations.
A type of product defect is known as a failure to warn. You’ll also see it called inadequate warnings and instructions. A product can be unreasonably dangerous because it fails to give any or enough warnings about the dangers associated with it. Or the manufacturer fails to give adequate instructions about how to use the product.
The manufacturer is responsible for considering how a person will use the product for its intended purpose. The manufacturer also should consider how the average person might use the product for another reason. Then, the manufacturer must consider the dangers involved with these foreseeable uses and misuses. If the manufacturer knows there is a risk that a reasonable person might not avoid, it should either redesign the product or provide instructions and warnings about that risk.
The manufacturer doesn’t have to warn about risks it neither knew about nor could have known. You can only pursue compensation when the manufacturer failed to warn you about a risk it was aware of or should have known about.
You have to show that how you used the product was foreseeable. The only way a manufacturer can consider a product’s risks is by contemplating the traditional uses and possible misuses of the product. If you used the product in a way that wasn’t reasonably foreseeable, then the manufacturer couldn’t have prepared for the dangers associated with that use.
This standard doesn’t mean the manufacturer has to prepare for every conceivable use of the product. This could lead to outlandish results. Instead, a manufacturer must prepare for uses that are objectively reasonable to expect.
The manufacturer doesn’t have to warn about obvious risks. You are expected to appreciate the obvious risks associated with a product and avoid getting hurt. If you were injured by an obvious risk, the manufacturer would likely argue you were also negligent. In Illinois, the jury has to decide whether you were negligent and if so, by how much. If you are 50% or less at fault for your injuries, you can recover compensation that’s reduced by your percentage of fault. If you’re 51% or more responsible, then you’re barred from receiving any compensation.
When you bring a product liability claim based on insufficient warnings on a product, you can allege the manufacturer is liable because it was negligent or because it is strictly liable. When you argue the manufacturer was negligent, you’re saying they did something wrong. You have to prove how they provided or failed to provide warnings and instructions was careless.
A different theory of liable from negligence is strict liability. Under strict liability, you don’t have to discuss the manufacturer’s actual conduct. It doesn’t matter if it was careless or not. Instead, you allege the manufacturer is automatically liable for injuries its defective product caused. You have to prove the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous when it left the manufacturer’s control.
If a product came with instructions and warnings, then the question might be whether they were adequate or not. Adequacy partly depends on whether the instructions were clear, accurate, and unambiguous. We might present evidence that the instructions or warnings were confusing or that there was another reasonable interpretation.
We might argue the instructions or warnings weren’t in an appropriate location. If you didn’t see the instructions or warnings, and a reasonable person wouldn’t have seen them either, then we can argue they were insufficient. It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure the instructions or warnings are conspicuous and will be noticed by consumers.
We’ll carefully analyze whether the provided instructions or warnings informed you of the risks associated with the product. It could be that there are clear and visible instructions or warnings. But these instructions or warnings might not address the risk that caused your injuries. The instructions and warnings are inadequate if they don’t serve to specify and reduce the risk associated with using the product.
Though most products have some type of warning or instructions, it’s not required for every product. Manufacturers don’t have to warn about obvious dangers or risks they’re unaware of. A reasonably safe product with only obvious risks might not need any specific instructions or warnings. You won’t automatically win a claim just because there was no warning or instructions.
When you believe you were injured by a product that was defective because it lacked sufficient instructions or warnings, talk with a lawyer about what to expect. The manufacturer or any other company you sue will defend itself. There are many possible defenses.
The defendant might argue you assumed the risk associated with using the product that way. They’ll claim you were aware of the risk and voluntarily used the product. Your assumption of the risk could lead the jury to measure your comparative negligence. Your compensation might be reduced, or you might not receive any compensation at all.
The defendant might argue you misused the product in a way that wasn’t foreseeable. Manufacturers and other businesses in the distribution chain are only responsible for preparing for reasonably foreseeable uses of the product.
Also, the defendant might argue that you or someone else changed the product. Manufacturers and other businesses aren’t responsible when an unforeseeable modification to the product causes you harm.
When you’re injured because of a dangerous product, you might not know whether it was defective or how it was defective. That’s why it’s important to consult a product liability attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer will thoroughly investigate the product, including any potential design, manufacturing, or warning defects. If there’s evidence of an insufficient warning on the product that caused you harm, then your lawyer might recommend filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer and other businesses.
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