Improper Warning Labels

One aspect of product liability law is that manufacturers, sellers and marketers of consumer products are legally obligated to provide labels affixed to or accompanying their products, which warn the user of potential risks or dangers in using or misusing the product.

While a proper warning may be a complete defense in some cases where a product caused injury to someone who failed to read or to heed the warning, an improper warning can lead to a serious injury or death to the consumer and an actionable liability lawsuit for damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product or in a case where there was either no warning label or it was insufficient, contact a San Jose personal injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Alex G. Tovarian.

An Improper Warning May Render the Product Defective

A product is defective if it is unreasonably dangerous, meaning that it poses a danger or risk that an ordinary consumer would not be expected to appreciate if the product is used in the manner intended.

An otherwise safe product may be rendered defective if the warning does not sufficiently warn the user of the product’s potential dangers. A product may be considered defective:

  • Because of inadequate warnings when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been avoided or reduced by a reasonable warning.
  • The omission of the warning renders the product not reasonably safe.

Proposition 65

Also, California’s Proposition 65 mandates that if a product contains compounds that may cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm, that a warning label to that effect be affixed to the product. This includes many household products such as pesticides, alcohol, electrical wires, flashlights, some cable products and others.

The warnings do not have to warn you what the substance is or how you might be exposed to it or what the level of risk may be.

Examples of Proper Warning Labels

Nearly everyone has read or seen on certain products warnings such as:

  • Danger, High Voltage
  • Harmful if Swallowed
  • Do Not Take this Drug if Pregnant
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children
  • This Drug May Impair the Ability to Drive or Operate Machinery
  • Not to be Taken by Mouth

Most warnings must also address specific hazards, especially where the danger is not obvious.

Duty to Warn

Generally, a manufacturer has a duty to warn of dangers. Many products have the warnings affixed to them so that third parties, or those who did not directly purchase the product or who are nonusers, are warned as well. Manufacturers are not obligated to warn of “open and dangerous” dangers or those which are obvious or should be obvious to the ordinary user.

Warning defects are threefold:

  • A failure to warn at all
  • A failure to provide an adequate warning
  • A failure to properly instruct

If the warning is issued, it must be also clearly indicate the scope of the danger, reasonably communicate the seriousness of the harm and convey the seriousness as to alert the reasonably cautious person.

Depending on the type of product, there are enforcement agencies that ensure that manufacturers follow their duty to warn. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires drug manufacturers to issue clear and concise information to users. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates cigarette warnings.

In other cases, there are the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regarding layouts for safety signs and labels and the terminology to be used.

Call The Law Offices of Alex G. Tovarian

Defective product cases involve complicated issues of liability and proof. If you suffered an injury from a defective product or by the omission of an adequate warning, contact a personal injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Alex G. Tovarian today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We have the resources, knowledge and experience to handle improper warning label cases.