A warning defect occurs if a manufacturer fails to provide a warning for a dangerous product. Below is an overview of why products may trigger warning defect claim and products that require warnings.
Examples of Warning Defects
There are four cases in which a product may be judged as lacking an adequate warning. Below is an overview of these four cases.
A product that should have a warning, but doesn't have any warning whatsoever, is defectively marketed. Say a manufacturer of a headache drug that also causes stomach upsets doesn't reveal the side effect. In this case, the product is definitely defectively marketed.
In some cases, the warning may be there, but in an adequate form. For a warning to be adequate, the manufacturer must specify exactly the danger associated with the product. For example, merely stating that a drug can cause dangerous side effects is not enough; the manufacturer must specify what the side effect constitutes.
No Safety Instructions
The manufacturer of the dangerous product should also reveal what consumers should do to avoid the danger. For example, a drug manufacturer may warn users against taking their drug before meals, combining the drugs with other drugs, or overdosing on the drugs. Without these safety instructions, the warning is still defective.
Inadequate Safety Instructions
Lastly, the safety instructions should be as specific as the warning. For example, advising consumers to 'exercise caution' when using a product is not adequate; the manufacturer should specify what this caution is. If you should not combine a drug with alcohol, then that is what the safety instruction should detail.
When a Warning Is Required
Product warnings are not required in all circumstances. A product must have a warning if it meets the threshold described below.
The Product Is Dangerous
Since the warning is about danger, it is only required for inherently dangerous products. For example, a bottle of drinking water might not require a warning because water is generally safe. However, a bottle of pesticide might require a warning because pesticides are typically poisonous.
The Manufacturer Knows About the Danger
Warnings are only required for dangers that the manufacturer knows or should know about. This means manufacturers are expected to take adequate measures to investigate and test their products to determine whether the products are dangerous and post warnings if necessary.
The Danger Is Inherent
Warnings are only required for products that are dangerous when used as expected. No warning is required if the product is only dangerous after it has been modified or if it is used in an unintended manner.
The Danger Is Obvious
Warnings are not required for obvious dangers that the intended users or the public know about. For example, the public knows that chainsaws have sharp blades that can cause injuries, so it's not necessary to warn about the sharp blades. However, not everyone knows that pressurized cans can explode so products in pressurized cans must come with relevant warnings.
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