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Warning labels must be clear and easy to find

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Manufacturers have to put warning labels on their products to help customers use them safely. Naturally, some companies don’t like to do this, as raising awareness about potential hazards doesn’t always make people want to buy the items. Telling a customer that a hair dryer can overheat and burn the house down, for example, makes a person think twice about buying it. Companies see this as the opposite of effective advertising.

However, to keep the companies from trying to hide the labels — enabling them to say that they warned the customers when they really didn’t — there are common procedures regarding how these have to be written and placed on products. Here are a few examples:

— The warning labels can’t be confusing. They have to spell out the problem in a way that is easy to read and understand for all consumers, regardless of education levels.

— The label needs to be put in a place where the consumer is naturally going to see it. Companies can’t hide them on the inside of the product, for example. A consumer should be able to find the warning while casually examining the product.

— The warning has to be easy to comprehend. For instance, it can’t be written with legal jargon, even if it’s technically correct, so that people can’t grasp it on a first read-through.

Technically, there aren’t regulations regarding color and form, but many warning labels are brightly colored — red, orange, or yellow — to make them easier to find.

Where you injured by a product that didn’t have warning labels, or were the labels that existed defective and not useful? If so, you may be able to seek compensation in New York.

Source: FindLaw, “Defects in Warnings,” accessed July 01, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.