Smart Lawyers to Blame for Stupid Product Warning Labels
- Feb 01, 2013
- Lawsuits, Legal Life
It starts innocently enough. Business makes product. Customer uses product. Product does what it’s supposed to. Everybody’s happy.
But then, the law of averages kicks in and the customer gets injured using the product. In fact, the customer gets injured in a way that the business could not possibly have anticipated. Since the business couldn’t anticipate the customer’s injury, the business didn’t put a warning on its product to prevent such injuries. The customer retains a lawyer. The lawyer rakes the business over the coals. The customer gets a settlement. The lawyer takes a large percentage of said settlement. The business forever covers its ass with a warning label.
And thus, a stupid warning label is born. And boy there are some gems out there. Take this Razor scooter warning that states, “This product moves when used.”
Or this iPod shuffle warning that tells people, “Do not eat iPod shuffle.”
Unfortunately (or fortunately, if internet humor is your thing) these companies must place these warnings on their products because the products they produce cannot reasonably be made any safer. In other words, the expense of making these products safer outweighs the benefit from the possible reduction in injury due to misuse. Either that, or retrofitting the product to eliminate the safety concerns would render the product impractical to use in its intended fashion.
This is why you see warnings on bags of peanuts that say, “Warning: May contain peanuts.” This is why you see food-scented cans of air freshener spray that tell people not to spray the product on top of actual food. This is why you see vending machine signs that warn people not to get caught beneath a vending machine. Because, y’know, that could hurt and stuff.
So the next time you see a novella taking up half of your coffee cup at McDonald’s, remember: It’s there because hot coffee can’t reasonably be made any safer and some idiot cost McDonald’s a lot of money by burning him/herself on said coffee.
Have you seen any product warning label gems lately? Send us links in the comments. Just don’t injure yourself in the process.
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