We’ve all done it. We get a new product – or maybe even use a product we’ve had for years – and when something goes wrong, we realize that actually reading the instructions might have helped avoid the troubles. It can be easy to feel foolish, and that the problem was all your fault (and let’s be honest, in some cases it is), but when a manufacturer creates a dangerous and/or defective product, it is not necessarily your fault that there was a confusing or “fine print” instruction deep in a lengthy and jumbled instruction manual.
Certainly, some product misuses are boneheaded and non-consequential, with the only losses being the few dollars you spent on the product and a temporary loss of dignity, but when you are seriously injured by a dangerous or defective product, you should take the step of speaking with an experienced defective product attorney in your jurisdiction to determine whether you have legal recourse for your physical and emotional injuries, even if you are concerned that you failed to follow the product instructions.
Your Misuse Does Not Necessarily Mean You Cannot Recover
Failure to follow the instructions in a New Jersey product liability lawsuit touches on two separate but related questions that can arise: 1) Was the consumer’s misuse or alteration of the product which resulted in the injury foreseeable to the manufacturer?; and 2) Were the printed warnings and/or instructions that accompanied the product sufficiently clear to help a reasonable person using the product in avoiding injury?
If these sound like complicated questions, they are, and ultimately such issues may be heavily litigated between a plaintiff and defendant in court. An experienced New Jersey product liability attorney can give you a through overview of how these issues affect your particular situation in a free consultation, but the basics are as follows.
Foreseeability and Adequate Warnings/Instructions in New Jersey
With regard to the question of whether a consumer’s misuse of a product prevents them from recovering in a lawsuit, a New Jersey court will look at whether the manufacturer could have reasonably anticipated that a consumer would have misused the product. For example, if you buy a blender with a blade that flies off unless very specific and unusual instructions are followed, it is probably foreseeable that a person who bought the blender would operate it without fully understanding (or even reading) the instructions, and thus a person injured by the blade could likely recover.
Similarly, a person who makes a reasonably foreseeable alteration to a product that results in injury – such as removing a highly restrictive plastic guard piece which impedes efficiency – might still be able to recover.
With regard to warnings and instructions provided with a product, while these statements are important in helping consumers avoid injury, such instructions must be clearly understandable and apparent to a reasonable consumer. Confusing, poorly worded, dense, and easy-to-miss instructions will not necessarily save a manufacturer from liability. Furthermore, no matter how well the instructions are written, some products are so inherently defective that a lawsuit may nonetheless be successful.
Again, speak with an experienced product defect attorney about your situation.
Call a New Jersey / New York Product Liability Attorney Today
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Judd Shaw Injury Law™ have won over $100 million in compensation for our clients, and we are here to stand by your side as your allies and champions in winning the recovery you deserve from all potential defendants. Contact us today to speak to a personal injury attorney about your personal injury and what our team can do to fight for maximum recovery on your behalf.