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Understanding product instructions and warnings

Products liability law helps to keep consumers protected from the dangers of unsafe products. There are rules and responsibilities governing those who make products so that the public can be protected. Adequate instructions and warnings must be provided when foreseeable risks of harm presented by the product could be reduced by reasonable instructions or warnings. It is also taken into account whether the omission of reasonable instructions or warnings makes the product not reasonably safe.

There are two duties of a manufacturer when creating instructions and warning labels. The manufacturer must warn the consumer of hidden dangers of the product. The manufacturer must also provide instructions for the use of the product so that the consumer can safely use the product and avoid any dangers. In general, warnings must be easy to find and must be clear, specific and understandable.

Warnings may not always be required but are required in circumstances when the product presents a danger; the manufacturer is aware of the danger; the danger is present when the product is used in its intended manner and in a reasonable manner; and if the danger is not obvious to a reasonable user. If a warning is required and the maker of the product fails to provide any warning or an adequate warning, they may be liable to compensate a consumer who suffers harm as a result. Insufficient warnings can be a serious concern for consumers, as manufacturers are responsible for providing adequate warnings for their products when necessary.

Because of the many layers of product safety efforts to keep consumers safe, including products liability law and remedies, the process can sometimes be complex. Nevertheless, it is important for consumers who have been harmed to be familiar with the legal options that can help them in their situation and may find the process more approachable as a result.

Source: FindLaw, "Defects in Warnings," Accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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