Defective Product Injuries: Do I Still Have a Case if the Product Came With a Disclaimer?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michael E. Trauscht with The Law Office Of Michael Trauscht.
Many products include disclaimers detailing the intended purpose of and risks presented by the item; disclaimers are often included with products with the intention to waive liability for the manufacturer if someone is injured. They often warn the consumer that they do not intend to be held responsible if the product causes an injury.
However, except in the cases of written contractual disclaimers, even if a disclaimer is included with a product, an injured party may still file a lawsuit. If you or a loved one have been injured by a product that came with a disclaimer, reach out to a product liability attorney to learn about your options for physical and financial recovery.
Product liability waivers (i.e. general disclaimers) are included with many products but are rarely binding.
It is not at all uncommon for products to include product liability waivers in the form of general disclaimers with the purchase of their product. These disclaimers are often included on the product tag, sticker, packaging, or instructional material. While at first glance these disclaimers seem to legally waive any liability for the safety, reliability, or durability of the product, the way in which the disclaimer is communicated often negates its effectiveness.
Most products include implied warranties which cannot be bargained away by an in-store purchase disclaimer.
A warranty allows people to return items that do not work or do not work as intended. Even in cases where the warranty is not expressly communicated, most products are considered to have an implied warranty for consumer protection. This is why products purchased at a retailer or grocery store may be returned if they fail to serve their intended purpose, even if the customer did not purchase an express warranty laid out in specific terms.
Consumers are not expected to give away their warranty rights based on the disclaimer of an in-store purchase.
To officially waive a warranty, implied or express, requires proof of understanding and a legal agreement. Shoppers making generally standard retail purchases in-store or online are not expected to understand the legal effects of a disclaimer on the warranty of the product; this is why in most cases disclaimers do not hold up in court as a reason to deny an injured party compensation.
Exceptions may include written contractual disclaimers and unique purchases.
There are some exceptions to the general rule of disclaimer negation. When a disclaimer to waive liability is included in a written contract in which both parties are given adequate time to understand and sign the contract, the disclaimer may very well hold up in court. This is because in the scenario of a contractual disclaimer, the consumer is assumed to have been given the opportunity to understand the implications of the agreement.
Similarly, expensive or custom purchases may include specific language regarding disclaimers; again, since these purchases are generally given more thought than others, consumers are expected to have a basic understanding of the implication of the disclaimer before purchase. In these situations, it may be difficult to convince a jury that the disclaimer should be waived.
Keep the packaging.
If you or a loved one were injured by a potentially broken, defective, or unsafe product, make sure to maintain possession of the product itself in addition to any packaging or instructional materials that came with it. This ensures that any disclaimers that came with the product can be properly considered by a product liability attorney, in addition to any directions for safe or proper use. It is also a good idea to take a picture of any injuries resulting from the product, as well as pictures of the product itself in the condition it was in at the time of the injury.
Reach out to a product liability attorney to present this evidence and discuss your situation to decide if you are eligible to seek legal compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more. Consultations are free, and most product liability attorneys do not charge their clients unless and until their case is won. To learn more about the role of disclaimers in a product liability case, or for help filing, talk to a product liability attorney.