Ep 27 – What Dangers Must be Noted on a Product Warning Label
“I assembled the bunk bed according to the instructions provided, but the ladder came off and my kid fell and got hurt, what are my legal options?”
I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s topic comes from a caller who had this question: “I put together the bunk bed according to the instructions in the box, but the ladder came off and my kid fell and got hurt, what are my legal options?”
This is a question we do not see often. At least not in the context of bunkbeds in particular.
But we do get many questions about the inadequacies of warnings and instructions in general.
Sometimes we all laugh at instructors and warnings that state the obvious. Like… “do not hold the chain end of a chainsaw”. Or, the label on a wheel barrow that says “not intended for use on the highway.”
But imagine a world without any warnings or instructions on the products we purchase.
Consider medications for example. What if there were no instructions about the hazard of driving after you take a medication that makes you drowsy. Without such a warning innocent people on the highways could be killed.
Here is what the law says about warnings and instructions. The Indiana Product Liability Act provides that a product is defective if the seller fails to:
(1) properly package or label the product to give reasonable warnings of danger about the product; or
(2) give reasonably complete instructions on proper use of the product;
when the seller, by exercising reasonable diligence, could have made such warnings or instructions available to the user or consumer.
Evidence of the absence of a warning, in the face of evidence indicating the need for a warning, provides the legal basis upon which to hold a manufacturer or seller of a product liable for harm resulting from the lack of a warning or instruction.
So back to the question about the bunk bed ladder coming loose. Let’s say an investigation reveals that the assembly instructions included with the product are not clear.
Let’s say also that the manufacturer actually had holes drilled in the upper bunk rail and supplied bolts to fasten the ladder to the rail. But, except for the holes in the upper bunk rail, the upper rail looked exactly the same as the lower bunk rail. The beds were assembled in China, and nobody thought to supply any instructions in English. It’s understandable that the consumer did not appreciate the difference, and the instructions were silent on the issue, and said nothing about fastening the ladder to anything with the supplied bolts.
In such a situation, there would be a valid basis to bring a legal claim against the bunk bed manufacturer.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.