Understanding Florida’s Failure to Warn Laws
We have all seen them, and maybe even laughed because of how obvious the are; but products carry warnings for good reasons. Florida’s laws put a responsibility on companies to adequately warn the public about the products they offer. So you may be asking yourself: “there are so many warnings on the products I buy, how can a company not warn the consumer well enough?” Well, problems arise when the warnings are hard to understand, difficult to read, or fail to address scenarios the company has not thought possible.
Failure to warn is wrapped up in the larger area of law known as products liability. Our common law traditions hold companies and people accountable for the products they offer to the public. The duty is theirs to ensure that their products are safe, or if they are not safe, warn the public of the involved dangers.
Failure to Warn Under Florida Law
Florida follows other common law jurisdictions by imposing a duty on companies to warn the public when a product is:
- Inherently dangerous; or
- Has the propensity of being dangerous.
And the warning must do more than simply warn of danger. In fact, the warning is required to be accurate, clear, and unambiguous. That seems simple enough but it creates a number of issues for each warning.
Is the warning accurate? Perhaps a product warning comes with 10 pages of how the product can be dangerous, but that does not matter when the information is not accurate. For example, if a dangerous drug is labeled with a warning that it can cause cancer, but fails to mention that it can cause blood clots, then it would constitute an inaccurate warning.
Is the warning clear? Sometimes, in the great number of warnings that come with products, words are jumbled together and are not set in understandable language. This is a problem because people using the product will have varying reading levels and ability to understand. The producer of product must ensure that the warnings are clear enough for a reasonable person to understand it.
Is the warning unambiguous? This is one of the most important factors, and ties in with the clear factor. Warnings can’t warn of general danger, because it does not tell the consumer enough. It would be very easy for companies to say that their product is dangerous, and leave it at that. But consumers would be left guessing why they product is dangerous, and be stuck wondering what kind of danger they are in.
Case Shows How Important Warnings Are
A recently decided case in Massachusetts puts warning labels into perspective. In the case, a little girl took some medicine prior to getting on a flight. As it turned out, the active ingredient in the medicine caused the girl to sustain long-term injuries. The girl’s attorneys argued that the company failed to warn about the medicine’s potential for hurting her. The jury agreed and awarded her a $63 million verdict, and Massachusetts’ high court upheld the jury’s decision.
When it comes to failure to warn and other products liability cases, hiring the right attorney is key. Alan Goldfarb P.A. has the experience needed for your Miami products liability case.