As an attorney representing business owners, I am sometimes called upon to defendant products liability cases where a person claims that he or she was hurt because a product was negligently designed or manufactured or which contained insufficient warnings. Although a manufacturer has a duty to develop a safe product, it has no obligation to make the product accident-proof.
Products which in the present state are quite incapable of being made safe for their intended and ordinary use and that are accompanied by proper directions and warning are not defective products.
A manufacturer has a duty to warn of a dangerous condition inherent in its product that could cause damage or injury. The warning must communicate to the user the potentially dangerous nature of the product, the possible consequences of the product’s use or misuse, and must cause a reasonable person to exercise caution commensurate with the danger posed by the product.
A manufacturer has no duty to warn if hazards associated with the use of a product are obvious, readily apparent or well known to the user of the product.
The injured plaintiff’s own conduct, such as the failure to follow warning labels, may be raised as a defense in a products liability case.
Retailers and distributors may also be liable for injuries resulting from a defective product. As a matter of public policy, one who profits from the sale or distribution of the product; as opposed to an innocent person injured by the product, should bear the financial burden occasioned by the injuries.