Product Manufacturers’ Liability For Failing To Warn Of Product Dangers

Sellers or distributors of products can be liable under various products liability theories for personal injury or wrongful death.  One main category of products liability is “failure to warn or instruct.”  Under a warnings or instruction theory, a defendant can be liable for putting a product on the market without adequate warnings or instructions.

In order to recover on a claim that a manufacturer’s product was defective because of inadequate instructions or warnings, the injured party must prove that the defendant sold or distributed the produce, that the defendant was engaged in the business of selling or distributing the produce, that the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the produce could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings, that the omission of the instructions or warnings rendered the produce not reasonably safe, and that the risk to be addressed by the instructions or warnings was not obvious to, or generally known by, foreseeable product users.

Companies can also have a duty to warn of product dangers even after a produce has been sold or distributed.  A supplier of a product has a duty to warn the users of the product following sale or distribution if the supplier knows or should reasonably know that the product poses a substantial risk of harm to persons or property, the supplier can identify those to whom a warning should be provided and it may reasonably be assumed those persons are unaware of the risk of harm, a warning can be effectively communicated to and acted on by those to whom a warning might be provided, and the risk of harm is sufficiently great to justify the burden of providing the warning.  Under those circumstances, the supplier has a duty to exercise reasonable care to inform the users of the product of the dangerous condition or of the facts which make it likely to be dangerous.


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