What Is “Product Misuse” in a Product Liability case?

| Feb 5, 2021 | Product Liability

People are unpredictable. This simple fact of human nature can cause myriad problems for product manufacturers and other companies in the supply chain. When people suffer an injury from using a product, they often litigate. However, what happens if a consumer misuses a product? Is the manufacturer still liable?

Product Misuse Is an Affirmative Defense

Product misuse is a valid defense against liability. If the defense team can prove the consumer ignored warning labels and deliberately misused the product, the manufacturer isn’t liable.

For example, if a person decides to stand on the folding chair to change a lightbulb and he falls and breaks his ankle when the chair collapses, the manufacturer could argue that the consumer misused the product as part of its defense against a product liability claim. After all, the chair was designed for sitting, not as a step ladder.

Was the Use Foreseeable?

Just because a consumer misuses a product doesn’t mean a manufacturer is relieved of liability. If the unintended use was foreseeable, a manufacturer might still be on the hook. This is why warning labels are so important.

Using the above example, a manufacturer could probably anticipate that a person might use a folding chair as a stool. Adding a warning label stating that a product is solely intended for use as a chair could help limit liability. However, while warning labels can help a manufacturer defend against potential claims, not all misuses of a product are foreseeable and other complex issues often arise in product liability cases that can expose companies to costly litigation. Bassi Edlin Huie & Blum attorneys have decades of experience in defending clients against product-related claims. Contact us to discuss your options for mitigating risk and reducing settlement values.