Inadequate Warning Label’s Attorney in NJ
Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions
Warning labels are required for all consumer products that carry a risk to consumer safety—including everything from Christmas lights and fireworks to medication and industrial machinery. And not only must products carry a warning label, but the label must be adequate and contain instructions for safe use of the product.
A warning label can be classified as defective if it does one of three things: fails to warn the consumer, fails to provide an adequate warning, or fails to adequately instruct the consumer on how to safely use the product.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of a defective warning label, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi as soon as possible. You and your family deserve compensation for your losses, and our experienced personal injury attorneys will make sure your claim is fully investigated.
What is Products Liability?
Defective warning labels fall under “products liability,” meaning any or all parties within the manufacturing chain for any given product can be found liable for the damage caused by that product. Products liability can apply to any part of the supply chain, including the manufacturer of the individual parts and the retail store owner who sells the product on a daily basis.
Products liability law is governed in New Jersey by the New Jersey Product Liability Act, which has been updated and amended since its enactment.
Products can be classified as defective if:
- There are flaws in the original design
- It was manufactured improperly and does not meet the designer’s or manufacturer’s specifications
- It fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions
Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions can open up manufacturers to a products liability lawsuit.
When is a Warning Label Required?
The manufacturer of a certain product has what is called a “duty to warn.” The duty to warn means that the manufacturer is required to inform consumers of all product-related dangers. The manufacturer must warn consumers when the following conditions exists:
- The product supplied is dangerous
- The danger is or should be known by the manufacturer
- The danger is present when the product is used in the usual and expected manner
- The danger is not obvious or well known to the user
The duty to warn is based on the idea that no one understands a product’s dangers better than its manufacturer. The manufacturer alone is equipped to determine the optimal balance of safety and utility—but unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes disrupt this balance in an attempt to cut costs or get a product on the market faster.
The presence of instructions on how to safely operate the product does not negate the need for a warning label; the opposite is also true, meaning the presence of a warning label does not negate the need for instructions for safe use.
What is Required on a Warning Label?
Once it is established that a manufacture has a duty to warn consumers, simply having a warning label is not enough. A manufacturer can still be liable for consumers’ injuries if the warning label provided is not adequate.
Products liability law states that a product is defective “because of inadequate instructions or warning when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings by the seller or other distributor, or a predecessor in the commercial chain of distribution, and the omission of the instructions or warnings renders the product not reasonably safe.” This statement is rather general, but case law and national standards organizations have set forth specific guidelines for what should be included on a warning label.
According to the American National Standards Institute, a warning label should:
- Inform the consumer of existing hazards
- Inform the consumer of the severity of the risk involved with the particular product
- Inform the consumer of the effects of the hazard
- Inform the consumer how to avoid the hazard
The warning and instructions on a product must be legally adequate, both in form and in content. The form of the warning must attract the user’s attention; in other words, it has to be conspicuous. The content of the warning must effectively communicate any danger to the user, and the instructions must inform the user of the proper way to use the product.
When evaluating the adequacy of a warning label or instructions, there are several questions that must be answered. After the following questions are answered, the question of liability generally becomes clear:
- Was it likely that the product would cause the harm suffered?
- How serious was the harm suffered?
- What was the technological feasibility and cost of providing a warning which the plaintiff now alleges would have been adequate?
- What knowledge could the defendant reasonably presume the user had of the potential risks?
- Does the warning convey a fair indication of the nature and extent of the danger in the mind of a reasonably prudent person?
- Was the warning comprehensible to the average user?
- Was the warning in such a form that it could reasonably be expected to catch the attention of a reasonably prudent person?
- What procedures did the defendant utilize in designing the warning provided?
A warning must be highly visible and positioned as close to the area of the hazard as possible. To identify the level of severity of a particular hazard, the American National Standards Institute has assigned three color-coded key words to alert the consumer:
- Danger (red): an impending hazardous event that will end in serious injury or death
- Warning (orange): a potentially hazardous circumstance that may end in serious injury or death
- Caution (yellow): a potentially hazardous condition that could end in moderate or slight injury
When Should You File Suit?
Products liability claims can be extremely complex, and they often require a lengthy investigation. The statute of limitations for a products liability case in New Jersey is two years; that is, you must file a claim within two years of the incident or you could lose out on your right to compensation.
Contact an Experienced Products Liability Attorney
Defective products cases can be highly complex and require the investigation of an experienced attorney. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi will work with experts, investigators, and other professionals to gather evidence to support your claim. Our attorneys are experienced in handling pharmaceutical drug claims, medical device claims, and other dangerous and defective products cases. If you or a loved one has suffered injury due to an unsafe product, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or fill out our online form. Starting with your free and confidential consultation, our experienced trial attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve.