Warning Signs And Hidden Dangers

It sometimes seems as though warning labels grow with each passing year. Microwave dinners warn you that their contents will be hot once you’ve cooked them, and soup cans carefully explain that the edges around the lid will be sharp once you’ve pried it open. Actually dangerous items like fireworks may require a full side of the box to give you all the warnings and instructions you need to use them safely. The signs at various locations may warn you about such obvious things as “Don’t Touch the Electric Fence” and “Warning: Construction Zone.”

People sometimes complain that these warnings are largely unnecessary and that anyone who can’t figure out what’s right in front of him or her deserves whatever may happen next. But aside from proving that people are generally more compassionate than unforgiving, these warnings serve an important purpose: protection from litigation. By putting up clear warning signs and providing simple instructions, businesses and individuals can make it clear to judges and juries alike that they’ve given people every reasonable chance to avoid harm.

When Warnings Aren’t Enough

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t matter how many warnings are displayed – a product may simply be too dangerous to allow anyone to use it. For example, the FDA constantly rejects a stream of drugs that don’t live up to its standards of doing more good than harm, and metal-tipped lawn darts are so infamously dangerous that they’ve been banned throughout the United States since 1988.

There are also a lot of construction materials that fall under this category. Lead pipes can leech the poisonous metal into your water supply, and lead paint chips with age, giving children the chance to break off pieces and eat them. Asbestos insulation was once incredibly popular thanks to its ability to resist fires, but as the insulation grows old it emits a dust which can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. Despite knowing this, however, the owners of many older buildings ignored the need for newer, safer insulation, leaving them open to lawsuits from everyone who ever worked or lived at that location.

Unintentional Dangers

The other major source of danger that comes without a warning sign is the defective product. A chair leg may snap too easily, a bag of spinach may be contaminated with salmonella, or a smart phone may be unable to make calls when you hold it in your hand.

As far as defective products go, manufacturers are generally stuck in a situation where liability is inevitable. Mistakes happen, of course, and while one or two bad products in a run of thousands or even millions can be written off as random errors, major defects are supposed to be caught before hitting the market. As such, even if the company acts responsibly and issues a recall as soon as the defect comes to light, they are still usually liable for any personal injuries and wrongful deaths that their products may have caused. Depending on the nature of the product, the company may also be responsible for lost income and other damages.

If you happen to be injured by a defective product, it may be in your best interest to hire a good personal injury lawyer. Whether you’re dealing with the company itself or with its insurance carrier, it’s unlikely that you’ll be speaking with someone willing to give you whatever you ask without any questions or issues. A personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate a better settlement, and they may be able to speed up the settlement process simply by being present. After all, it’s cheaper for them to settle immediately than to start an extended legal battle which they are unlikely to win.