Are Users to Blame for Their Injuries from Your Product?

by | Jun 4, 2020 | Product Liability

When someone gets hurt by a toy, appliance, or other product, people can be quick to label it defective or dangerous and blame the maker of the product. However, the manufacturer is not necessarily at fault.

In some situations, users that fit into one of the following categories may be to blame for their injuries caused by a product.

Sophisticated user

A sophisticated user is someone who knows, or should know, the dangers associated with using a product, releasing from liability a manufacturer that does not provide adequate warnings. In other words, if a user has a clear understanding of the product and the dangers associated it with, a lack of warnings is generally not going to be the reason for an injury.

Understand, though, that there are challenges in demonstrating that a person is a sophisticated user. Manufacturers will need to provide compelling evidence that demonstrates the person’s skill, training, and experience with the product.

A misuser or modifier

It is virtually impossible to anticipate all the ways in which consumers might use your product, especially now when there are countless “hacks” to alter or misuse various products for purposes that deviate from the manufacturer’s specified use. A manufacturer can provide ample guidance and warning, and someone could still get hurt using the product in an unintended way and that the company could not reasonably foresee.

Under these circumstances, your company may not be liable for damages. People who misuse or modify a product and then get hurt as a result could be responsible for their injuries.

An unlucky user

People get hurt by products every day, but that does not mean the product is or was defective. A user might be clumsy when using an obviously dangerous product (like a kitchen knife); he or she might have had the product repaired by a negligent party, creating a defect; or the person might have purchased a counterfeit version of your company’s product.

In these scenarios, a person could very well suffer injuries. However, getting hurt does not necessarily mean the product is defective or make the designer, manufacturer, or seller of that product liable for damages.