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What Warning Labels Really Mean

Warning labels are on products for a good reason. Unfortunately many people don’t read them, and in some cases they’re not adequate.

There are a lot of funny warning labels on the Internet, including one that said something like “Don’t operate hairdryer while having a shower.” Or one of the better ones floating around says about a mattress – “Warning: do not attempt to swallow.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone trying to swallow a mattress. However, the fact that the warning label states that it shouldn’t be attempted indicates the manufacturers are trying to make sure they don’t get sued for the eventuality. That’s the main reason for warning labels – to avoid lawsuits if something goes wrong with the product.

Most often people associate warning labels and lawsuits in the same sentence when they’re taking medications. It’s quite common that many drugs do have side effects; some so serious they may even cause death. The US courts are quite busy with dangerous product lawsuits relating to drugs that harm.

A warning label is supposed to tell consumers there may be a problem with the product. Some might sound highly ridiculous and pretty obvious, like the one on pepper spray that states, “Don’t spray in your own eyes.” If those warnings weren’t there, and something bad happened, anyone could sue the company for selling a defective product.

It’s the 1994 Safety Regulations that are in effect for most new and used products such as vehicles, medicines, clothing, pesticides, DIY tools and household goods etc. The rules say that the manufacturers must provide safe products for normal and “unusual, but predictable applications.”

The definition of predictable applications is sometimes difficult to define. For instance, taking a shower while using a blow dryer, not that usual and not a highly predictable activity – yet someone obviously tried it.

If a product just doesn’t work and doesn’t hurt anyone, then it’s not defective. It should be taken back to the manufacturer, but if it’s not dangerous it doesn’t qualify for a defective product lawsuit.

If a person thinks they may have grounds for a defective product lawsuit, they should contact a competent attorney with experience in this area. S/he will assess the merits of the potential case and provide advice on how to proceed.

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The law offices of Stephen M. Ozcomert specialize in personal injury, accidents, and malpractice law in Atlanta Georgia.

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