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Product Liability: FAQs About Failure to Warn Cases - Insights from a Personal Injury Lawyer

Shay + Associates Law Firm personal injury lawyer in Springfield and Decatur, Illinois

From cars to food and children’s toys, defective products impact millions of people. Three basic types of product liability claims exist: design defect, manufacturing defect, and a failure to warn.

If you want to file a claim against a manufacturer, distributor, or another entity because they failed to warn you about the potential negative consequences or reactions of using their product, know where to begin and what mistakes that could jeopardize your case.

Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about filing a failure to warn product liability claim.

What Is a Failure to Warn Product Liability Claim?

When you purchase a product, you assume it will be safe. If you have any question about the safety of the product, you expect manufacturers to provide you with a warning or instructions on how to properly use the product.

For example, if you purchase an over the counter cough medication for your spouse, and they become sick because the manufacturer didn’t provide a clear warning about any possible dangerous interactions, you could file a suit against the medication’s manufacturer.

Therefore, the basis for a failure to warn lawsuit is that the manufacturer did not provide a clear warning or set of instructions for the proper use of their product or any dangers posed by the use of their product. Based on this, you can file a claim.

How Do I Prove My Failure to Warn Product Liability Claim?

Each state has its own set of product liability laws, including Illinois. The state’s strict liability laws have two critical elements that are important to your case.

The first is that for you to file a product liability claim, the manufacturer, distributor, seller, or anyone who was directly involved in giving you the product must be responsible. In failure to warn product liability cases, the burden typically falls on the manufacturer, because their responsibility is to caution the user against any adverse side effects or other issues.

The second element is based on these factors that the consumer’s attorney must prove:

  • The manufacturer was aware the product was dangerous, but allow it to be sold and purchased.

  • The manufacturer didn’t warn the consumer about the risks of the product. The consumer must prove that if a warning about the dangers of the product had been on the product, the consumer would have read and followed the warning, which in turn would have prevented the injury.

  • The manufacturer didn’t provide a clear and adequate warning. For example, if the product is dangerous for children, the consumer’s attorney could argue that the warning wasn’t clear.

  • The failure to adequately warn the consumer must directly have led to some sort of injury. The injury must affect the consumer’s quality of life. For example, the injury must impact the consumer’s ability to work or result in large medical bills.

Under liability laws, the manufacturer, distributor, seller, or any other entity cannot use the defense that they were unaware of the danger or issue. The law expects the entity to know enough about their product or service to understand all its inherent or unintended risks.

What Are Some Common Mistakes I Should Avoid?

If you or a loved one have a serious injury because a manufacturer or other entity failed to adequately warn you about the potential side effects of the product, you have many mistakes you can potentially make that will derail your case, including:

  • Forgetting the statute of limitations: The statute of limitations to file a product liability lawsuit in Illinois is two years from the date of the injury. In some cases, if the investigation discovers additional evidence, this can lengthen the statute of limitations.

  • Tossing out the product: Never throw away, destroy, alter, or try to attempt a product that malfunctions. For example, if you purchased a product that is missing its warning label, set it and the receipt in a safe place.

  • Overlooking your part in the injury: Unfortunately, the product injures some consumers because they ignore the warning label or go against the warnings and instructions in the manual. Let your attorney know if you are, in any way, at fault for the injury for this reason.

  • Filing a lawsuit against the wrong entity: If you have an injury because of a failure to warn, you might accidentally file a suit against the distributor or the store where you purchased the item. Your attorney can help you determine who is potentially liable for the injury.

One of the biggest mistakes is not hiring a personal injury lawyer or choosing representation that does not concentrate on product liability lawsuits.

Before you file a failure to warn lawsuit against a manufacturer, know what to expect and why you should never proceed with the help of an attorney. If you have any additional questions, contact the professionals at Shay & Associates.


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