What Is “Failure To Warn” In Product Liability Lawsuits?


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We’ve all seen product warning labels that seem unnecessary, such as “do not eat” on a packet of silica gel or “contents are hot” on a cup of coffee. While these statements may seem obvious, many products can cause serious injury if warnings aren’t heeded. When important warnings are incomplete or missing, injuries become much more likely.

What Is Product Liability?

Product liability is the notion that companies who design, make, or sell products are legally required to ensure their products are safe for consumers to use. If a product causes some sort of injury due to a defect, then that company may be forced to compensate the injured party for any damages.

Products can be considered “defective” in three different ways:

  • The product’s initial design was defective, meaning that even when used appropriately, it was likely to cause harm
  • The product was designed well, but an error during its manufacture caused it to be defective and potentially dangerous
  • The product was designed and manufactured properly, but it lacked appropriate warnings about how to use it correctly or how to avoid harm

When a product lacks appropriate warnings and causes injury, this is often referred to as a “failure to warn.” A recent example of this is the possibility for lithium batteries to explode, such as the type found in e-cigarettes or vape pens. While part of the problem is likely a fault in the original design, many companies fail to adequately warn consumers about the best ways to avoid overheating and explosions in lithium batteries.

Are Products Required To Carry Warnings?

In general, any product is considered defective if a manufacturer fails to warn users of foreseeable risks posed by its product and can be held liable if those risks could have been reduced or prevented by a clear warning or set of instructions.

Warnings are not required, however, for any obvious dangers. A knife manufacturer, for example, would not be required to warn consumers that knives are sharp and can cause harm. There’s a legal gray area around what constitutes an “obvious” danger, so many manufacturers choose to err on the side of providing too many warnings rather than risk giving too few. For example, it’s likely obvious that you shouldn’t put your hand inside a snowblower while it’s running. Still, it may be less obvious that you shouldn’t try to remove sticks or other debris trapped between the blades of a snowblower until it’s completely powered off, even if the blades are not actively spinning.

How Long Do You Have To File A Product Liability Lawsuit?

Pennsylvania limits the amount of time to file a lawsuit to two years following the date of injury. If you don’t bring forth a case within that period, you may lose your ability to seek compensation (except in limited circumstances).

One of the few exceptions to this two-year statute of limitations relates to fraudulent concealment. Suppose a defective product isn’t known to be the source of injury due to the fraudulent concealment of its defect. In that case, you might have two years from when a reasonable person would have become aware that a bad product caused their injury. This particular situation most often applies in medical cases, such as when a medical device or medication causes problems and the doctor or manufacturer hides knowledge of the product’s defect from their patient.

Do You Believe That Proper Warnings May Have Prevented Your Injury?

Suppose a product has seriously injured you or a loved one, and you believe that the manufacturer could have prevented your injury with better directions or warnings. In that case, you may have a valid product liability case. Even if your injury occurred more than two years ago, your case might still qualify. An experienced personal injury attorney will assess your situation and determine whether your injury falls within the proper period to file a claim.

Why Choose Ross Feller Casey?

When a company fails to warn consumers of the dangers that its products pose, it should be made to pay for the damage that those products cause. If you’ve been seriously injured, the legal team at Ross Feller Casey is standing by to help. Our attorneys have extensive experience with all types of product liability cases, so we know what it takes to get results.

We have a leading team of doctor-lawyers right on staff, so we understand that injuries can be complex, and recovery can often take a long time. You shouldn’t be weighed down by the financial burden of medical bills and lost wages, and you deserve to be compensated for the pain and suffering you and your family have endured.

Ross Feller Casey has a history of record-breaking results. We’ve recovered over $3 billion for our clients, including hundreds of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements. We never charge for consultations, and we work on a contingency basis. You don’t pay us a dime until you win your case. Contact us today and let us help you get the justice you deserve.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.