When consumers purchase products, they assume that what they are buying is safe to use. However, dangerous products can cause severe injuries to consumers. In some cases, a consumer’s injuries are caused by the packaging of a product. This can happen when someone cuts themselves on a box or something similar, but packaging can be faulty in other ways, too.
How Does Packaging Protect Consumers?
Packaging design is a big industry, and companies hope to package their products in ways that attract business, but safety is important. Packages should be easy to open and close, and when it is needed, they may store products. They should also be easy to handle, dispose of, and recycle. If a package is defective, it could damage a product. Sharp or other potentially hazardous features should be guarded to protect consumers from injuries. For example, if a knife set has defective packaging, the consumer might cut themselves when they open it up.
Packages should also include clear, complete instructions for usage. This could be on the outside packaging or inside with detailed manuals. If there are any possible hazards, such as a toy that should only be used by children ages 12 years and older, this should be clearly noted.
Some goods have several levels of packaging, which can complicate matters. One example is preservative-free eyedrops. They can come in a large box with several smaller plastic bags inside. Inside each bag are several plastic ampules and each has one dose. Something could go wrong with any of these packages.
Defective Packaging Examples
There have been countless cases in this category, and some are pretty shocking. One case involves a child who was disfigured after a burning hot pizza slid out of a badly designed pizza box and landed onto her lap. Another case involved a woman who was hurt when a packaged knife sawed its way out and hurt her. A separate claim involved an ambulance worker who gave a patient the wrong drug. The packaging was deemed to be deceptively similar. However, not all packaging products liability cases involve injury or death. In one case, a beer importer claimed that the company’s beer shipment arrived stale, and this was blamed on the type of beer that had been used. The importer was able to claim financial damages.
How can Companies Protect Consumers?
Products are marketed through their packaging, but companies need to ensure that their goods will be used safely and that no one will get hurt. This is where research and development comes in. It must be determined whether there are any inherent risks to the finished product, and these should be explained in full detail on the packaging.
Sometimes, products are safe unless they are used with other items, such as medications. Not all product hazards are obvious, and even the most careful consumers may not recognize them. Other products can cause injuries when they are not used properly, and this happens when consumers are not aware of the dangers. Manufacturers need to be aware of any possible dangers that their products might present and create specific instructions that explain them. Warnings should be large and clear, and easy to see, read, and understand.
Getting the proper usage instructions to all users is essential since products might get passed on and used by others who are not familiar with the safety requirements. For example, a hydraulic hoist was installed by a truck equipment company onto a construction company’s truck. One employee was working under the truck bed and brushed up against an exposed cable. The truck bed collapsed, injuring him severely. Even though the instruction manual specified that users should take precautions while working underneath, a judge ruled that this was not enough warning. The injured worker had never seen the manual, and he was not familiar with hydraulic equipment. Harvard Business Review summarized this case, adding that the actual product should have had a warning on it.
How Do I Build a Packaging Products Liability Case?
Safety warnings are usually easy to see and can be right on the package or in the manual. If the packaging clearly did not have warnings, an injured party could have a valid claim against the company. If there were inadequate or an absence of product instructions, the consumer may assemble the product the wrong way or use it incorrectly, leading to a lawsuit. Product instructions are not always easy to follow, especially when the print is small. They can also have typos, misprints, and be too faded to read. Even when there are visuals, these can be hard to interpret and may show the product at hard-to-decipher angles.
These are various possible grounds for packaging products liability claims. To prove that a company was negligent, it must be established that the defendant owed the injured party a duty of care and that this duty was not met. Also, it must be shown that the package directly caused the plaintiff’s personal injury. A lawyer can focus on several principles in order to make the case:
Breach of Warranty
A breach of warranty occurs when a seller fails to guarantee that the product they are selling is of proper quality, and this can apply to the packaging as well. There are three types:
- Expressed warranties are guarantees articulated in words and text.
- Implied warranties of fitness guarantee that a product is suited for its advertised purpose.
- Implied warranties of merchantability guarantee the consumer’s right to assume that the seller’s product is not defective in any way.
The failure-to-warn principle comes into play when a product has at least one hazard, and the lack of any warning led to the personal injury. A product posed one or more hazards, such that its safe use depended on adequate warnings, but the absence of such warnings caused the personal injury.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer?
It is hard to imagine all of the potential dangers that a product can have, but companies are responsible and have a duty of care to protect consumers. If one is injured by a product or defective packaging, they should not hesitate to contact a lawyer. Determining liability is complex in these cases, so hiring a lawyer is extremely important. A lawyer can ensure that their client receives compensation in a products liability case.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Clients Injured by Defective Products and Packaging
Our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC protect the rights of consumers. We can help if you were injured by defective packaging. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488 for a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.