Some products are dangerous no matter how much a manufacturer tries to make them safe. For example, a hairdryer will almost always be hazardous if you drop it in water. There simply are no adequate safety measures that will completely protect a consumer from being harmed by a hairdryer that is exposed to water.
In those situations, manufacturers are expected to warn consumers of this risk. These warnings must generally meet particular requirements regarding their wording, placement, and even how big the notice should be. When a manufacturer does not include the proper warning or instruction, and someone is hurt, they need to talk to a California defective product attorney because they likely have a legal claim.
The Manufacturer’s Duty to Warn
As a rule, a manufacturer has a duty to warn when the following conditions are met.
- The product involved is dangerous
- The manufacturer knows or should know about the danger
- The danger arises when the product is used expectedly (whether that is a proper use or a foreseeable misuse)
- The user may not know about the threat, or it is not obvious
When the duty to warn arises, the manufacturer must provide an “adequate” warning. If the notice is not adequate, it is the same as providing no warning at all.
Strict Liability and Failure to Warn
California products liability law uses strict liability when it comes to failure to warn situations. That means that a victim (or plaintiff) does not have to prove that the warning was lacking because of the manufacturer’s carelessness or negligence. Instead, you simply have to show that the warning was inadequate.
When is a Warning Inadequate?
An inadequate warning will vary depending on the type of product involved. In some cases, a notification may be insufficient simply because it is placed in a location on the product that is not obvious or that you cannot see. If notice is in the middle of a large instruction manual, for example, it may not be adequate. Most warnings should use coloring, big lettering, and be placed outside of the instruction manual.
Federal laws have specific formatting and placement instructions that must be followed for some particularly dangerous products. Car seats for infants, for example, have particular wording, coloring, and even font that should be used for the warning. If a manufacturer does not follow those directions, then that is a good indication that a notice is not adequate under the law.
Reading and Adhering to Warnings
When a warning is on a product, the seller or manufacturer can make the assumption that you read the notice. That means that if you engage in the action that the warning described, you do that at your own risk. This is true even if you did not actually read the notice. There is also no assumption that if the manufacturer had provided an adequate warning, it would have been read and followed by an injured plaintiff.
Getting Legal Help from a California Product Liability Lawyer
If you have been harmed by a product, you need to talk to a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of product liability law in California. Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation fits the bill! Call our team to schedule a free consultation today.