Manufacturers are responsible for the flaws in their products that injure users. Not every product can be made 100% safe, though. Things like lawnmowers, power tools, and simple kitchen knives are dangerous. While there may not be a safer design alternative, many times, the manufacturer is required to warn the user about the product’s dangers.
If you or a loved one has suffered defective product injuries, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law may be able to fight for you. He can work to recover compensation for the injuries you suffered, your medical bills, and other damages. To schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyer in Fayetteville, call (479) 439-1843 today, or contact us online.
Manufacturer Instruction Requirements
Arkansas law generally requires that the manufacturer of a product supply “reasonable and adequate” instructions when selling a product. What is “reasonable and adequate” comes down to the specifics of the product and its dangers. Some of the factors in determining what instructions a product needs are:
- The product itself;
- A consumer’s chance of misusing the product; and
- Whether the product contains obvious or hidden dangers.
However, under Arkansas law, product manufacturers generally only need to provide warnings for foreseeable uses. There might not be a need to warn when the danger is obvious.
This means that, at least in Arkansas, there usually needs to be some instructional materials included with a product. Many times, in order to safely operate something, a user just needs to be told how to do it. When users do not understand how something works, they are more likely to try to force things to work in ways that they do not, and may hurt themselves in the process.
Instructions are only necessary for foreseeable uses, though. That means that, even though a product may be very helpful for some other use, the manufacturer might not need to include directions on how to use it that way.
Dangerous Product Warning Requirements
Aside from a duty to provide instructions, a manufacturer of a product may also need to include warnings. Generally, a manufacturer has a duty to warn of product dangers. A failure to do so may make them liable for your injuries. Arkansas Model Jury Instruction 1002 defines the duty as such:
A manufacturer of a (product) has a duty to give a reasonable and adequate warning of dangers [inherent][or][reasonably foreseeable] in its use [(for a purpose) (and) (in a manner) that the manufacturer should reasonably foresee]. A violation of this duty is negligence. There is no duty, however, to warn a user of obvious dangers or those known to [him][her] or those which [he][she] should reasonably discover for [himself][herself].
Basically, this means that the manufacturer needs to warn users about foreseeable dangers in the use of their product. However, manufacturers are not required to provide warnings regarding dangers that are “open” or “obvious.” That means, for instance, that a knife company may not need to warn that its knives are sharp.
Manufacturers do not need to account for the possibility that a user might be uniquely sensitive to a particular danger. For instance, in Vanoven v. Hardin, 233 Ark. 301, 306, 344 S.W.2d 340, 343 (1961), the court found that the manufacturer of an insecticide was not required to provide a warning about allergic reactions. Since that warning would only affect people with that allergy sensitivity, the warning was not required.
To see how this works, we’ll use the example of a circular saw. Obviously, a saw is dangerous and is intended to cut things. That means it might not need a warning that the blade is dangerous, especially when spinning. It may not be obvious, though, where you should hold it when starting it, where it should be used, or what materials it is intended to cut. These kinds of warnings, as well as warnings about electrical dangers, are typically on the machine and in the instructions.
If the manufacturer can predict a misuse of the product, they may also have to warn against the misuse. For instance, barbeque grills are quire portable, and some may fit inside your house. Though it might seem obvious to most people, it is dangerous to use a grill indoors. Grill companies usually warn about this misuse, because it is foreseeable that someone might misuse a grill in this way.
The duty to warn users about a product danger sometimes disappears in pharmaceutical cases. Since a doctor usually prescribes medication, the doctor is often in a better place to warn you. Sometimes the law puts the burden of warning patients on the doctor instead of the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Failure to Warn Compensation May be Available
If you or a loved one was injured or killed due to a manufacturer’s failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings, product liability attorney Ken Kieklak may be able to help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (479) 439-1843 today or contact us online.