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When Can a “Failure to Warn” Be The Basis of a Product Liability Lawsuit?

As experienced product liability lawyers, we have assisted and obtained compensation for many clients who have suffered serious injuries as a result of consumer products that were designed or manufactured in such a manner as to make them unreasonably dangerous or unsafe. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 38 million people are injured by consumer products each year, and dangerous and defective products kill over 35,000 people annually.

While many if not most of those injuries are a result of problems with the product itself, many other injuries arise because the product was not accompanied by sufficient warnings or other information that could have spared consumers from unnecessary and completely avoidable accidents. When injuries do occur and lawsuits follow as a result of the failure to provide such information, these are often called “failure to warn” or “”marketing defect” cases.

“Failure to Warn”

Broadly, “failure to warn” cases involve one or more of the following:

  • Failure to provide adequate instructions on the proper and safe use of the product;
  • Failure to warn of its inherent potential dangers; and/or
  • Failure to provide adequate information as to the risks of using the product.

Obviously, almost every consumer product, even the most innocuous and benign, can present potential dangers and risks if used improperly. A sharpened pencil, for example, could cause serious damage if someone were to stick in their eye, but that does not mean the pencil designer, manufacturer, or distributor would be subject to “failure to warn” liability for failure to include “Warning: Do Not Stick Pencil Into Eye” on the product packaging. If every conceivable way in which a product could be misused or could cause injury had to be discussed in the product’s instructions or warnings, it would be unreasonable and absurd. If a potential danger is “open and obvious” or not reasonably foreseeable, as with the wayward pencil, there is generally no duty to warn.

Indiana Product Liability Act

However, if a product presents inherent and foreseeable dangers even if used correctly, the product should come with understandable and visible instructions as to its proper use. A product does not need to present the relatively obvious potential dangers of, say, a chainsaw in order to require adequate warnings as to misuse or risks. In Indiana, the failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions on any consumer product, where they are necessary, renders a product defective under the Indiana Product Liability Act.

Under the Act, a product is defective if the seller fails to properly package or label the product to give reasonable warnings of danger about the product; or give reasonably complete instructions on proper use of the product; when the seller, by exercising reasonable diligence, could have made such warnings or instructions available to the user or consumer. IC 34-20-4-2.

“Failure to warn” cases will turn on the specific facts of the case, the nature of the injuries and the specifics of the product and its packaging. As consumers, we certainly have come to trust and rely on the information we are provided with the products we purchase. When a manufacturer’s failure to provide thorough and accurate information about a product’s use and dangers leads to serious injury, compensation for this lapse may be available. An experienced Indiana product liability attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you of your options.

Hovde Dassow + Deets: Indiana Defective Products Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a consumer product, give the exceptional Indianapolis product liability attorneys at Hovde Dassow + Deets a call at (317) 818-3100 or toll-free at  (888) 404-6833  for a free, initial, and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

This article has been prepared by Hovde Dassow + Deets for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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