When equipment is improperly labeled, it can lead to a myriad of potential injuries and even death in some cases. Everything from simple cuts and abrasions to broken bones, severed limbs, electrocution—the list goes on and on. Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect people who are injured on the job, including due to improper equipment labeling or a failure to warn of hazards.
What Classifies These Injuries?
The leading cause of failure to warn or label injury cases is faulty equipment or older equipment with no visible warning labels. These cases are typically classified by having no warning at all or having a warning label that was difficult or impossible to understand or see.
Consider a scenario where a worker was injured in a forklift accident when that worker tried to pick up a pallet of material weighing 3000 lbs. Unbeknownst to the worker, the maximum operating weight limit for the forklift was 2000 lbs. The warning label advising the worker of the weight limit was nowhere to be found. Perhaps the manufacturer never affixed the warning label on the forklift. Or maybe the warning label was there initially, but it had disappeared over time. Either way, the injured worker may have grounds for a “failure to warn” claim.
The company and equipment manufacturers could be responsible for the lack of proper warning or labeling. Therefore, a failure-to-warn claim could be appropriate if an employee wasn’t properly warned before the injury occurred.
In the early 1900s, every state developed workers’ compensation laws and guidelines. These were all designed to help provide things like medical coverage and lost wages compensation in the event of a workplace injury. Employees can receive workers’ compensation regardless of who was at fault or what led to the injury. Today, most companies prohibit employees from suing employers if they are injured on the job. Almost all workers injured while on the job receive some workers’ compensation benefits. However, the benefit amount could vary depending on the exact circumstances involved. Employees may also need to file suit against a third party (such as an equipment manufacturer) if they were at fault for the injuries. Determining liability is never an easy task.
How Does This Impact Liability Claims?
Essentially, if manufacturers cannot prove that products are reasonably safe, they are required to warn users about potential dangers. Some examples of that include:
- Maximum load weight limits for heavy machinery
- Warnings about not mixing various industrial chemicals together
- Safe operating air pressure ranges for industrial hoses and gaskets
If you’re using rat poison to get rid of an infestation, the company needs to let you know how dangerous that poison is to humans, how to avoid it, and who to contact to assist with the poisoning. If you buy alcohol, there are warning labels about safe consumption. Everywhere you look, there are warnings. The idea, of course, is when warnings are present, it nullifies most of the opportunities for consumers to file suit against a company for an injury caused by a failure to warn.
Duty to Warn
Companies have what is known as a duty to warn that requires them to let consumers know about the dangers of their product(s). It’s no longer enough to provide a label buried somewhere in an instruction manual. Warnings must be visible and understandable to the average product user. Products must be labeled directly, and dangerous product design should be a part of the development process to ensure no dangers are present in the basic design and function of an item.
Why Are There Warning Labels on Everything?
There is a reason for all the warning labels present on products today. Laws have changed how companies present products to the world, and these labels protect the consumer and ensure their safety.
If a company fails to put a warning label on their product and someone gets injured, the person could sue, and the company would be held liable. The manufacturer must be able to predict the potential use and misuse of a product and then warn the public of proper usage and potential dangers to protect themselves from being liable. Whether it’s dangerous product design or simply a gross misuse of a product, it can all come back to the manufacturer if there aren’t these guidelines in place.
If You’ve Been Victimized, You Deserve Justice
At Trammel Piazza, we have years of expertise in handling workers’ compensation and failure to warn claims. We can help you understand the legal process, as well as the details of your specific case, and fight for the justice that you deserve. If you have questions, we have answers. Schedule your free consultation today and find out how to get the compensation and justice you deserve.