People are unpredictable. This simple fact of human nature can cause myriad problems for product manufacturers and other companies in the supply chain. When people suffer an injury from using a product, they often litigate. However, what happens if a consumer misuses a product? Is the manufacturer still liable?
Product Misuse Is an Affirmative Defense
Product misuse is a valid defense against liability. If the defense team can prove the consumer ignored warning labels and deliberately misused the product, the manufacturer isn’t liable.
For example, if a person decides to stand on the folding chair to change a lightbulb and he falls and breaks his ankle when the chair collapses, the manufacturer could argue that the consumer misused the product as part of its defense against a product liability claim. After all, the chair was designed for sitting, not as a step ladder.
Was the Use Foreseeable?
Just because a consumer misuses a product doesn’t mean a manufacturer is relieved of liability. If the unintended use was foreseeable, a manufacturer might still be on the hook. This is why warning labels are so important.
Using the above example, a manufacturer could probably anticipate that a person might use a folding chair as a stool. Adding a warning label stating that a product is solely intended for use as a chair could help limit liability. However, while warning labels can help a manufacturer defend against potential claims, not all misuses of a product are foreseeable and other complex issues often arise in product liability cases that can expose companies to costly litigation. Edlin Gallagher Huie + Blum attorneys have decades of experience in defending clients against product-related claims. Contact us to discuss your options for mitigating risk and reducing settlement values.