The American Burn Association reports that in 2013 over 450,000 burn injuries received medical attention. Over the past decade, 72% of all burn injuries occurred in the home. Due to the extreme pain and suffering burn injuries can inflict on an individual, they are among the most traumatic personal injuries one can endure.
Many of these burn injuries in the home are caused by household items with inadequate warning labels. The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) governs warning labels. Under FHSA, there are regulations of household products that are “toxic,” “flammable,” or “combustible.” Specifically, the FHSA requires that a product “conspicuously”- that is, clearly and noticeably – displays the dangers and hazards associated with the product and the necessary precautions for its use and storage. The FHSA requires that manufacturers provide this warning through clear signal words like “Danger” or “Caution.” The FHSA also provides specific definitions for hazards such as “extremely flammable,” “combustible,” or “toxic.” The FHSA, however, is not a burden for corporations; they must only reasonably convey the danger of household products to the reasonable consumer.
In signaling the danger of a product to the consumer, the FHSA mandates that manufacturers must consider how the product may be used and stored by the consumer in order to prevent foreseeable injuries. If the product requires special care in handling or in storage, the packaging must provide clear instructions for consumers to follow to protect themselves. If a product would be harmful if ingested, it must bear the “Keep out of reach of children” precaution clearly and noticeably on the packaging. In this way, the FHSA requires manufacturers to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries to consumers.
Unfortunately, manufacturers of dangerous products do not always follow the FHSA guidelines. Concerned that a product will sound too dangerous for consumers to buy, corporations often hide or bury the dangers associated with their product. For example, the warning or “signal word” may be buried on the back of the label, in small print, or made ineligible in some other way. This type of purposefully deceptive conduct is against federal law and it often results in the serious injury to individuals through no fault of their own. A corporation has a legal responsibility to warn consumers of the dangers its products pose to the public, and to circumvent that responsibility is unacceptable. Because the primary concern of some corporations is the bottom line – making a profit – consumer safety is simply not a top priority.
If you are a victim of a corporation’s deception in hiding the dangers of a product, please do not hesitate to seek the compensation to which you are entitled. Burn injuries not only inflict lifelong emotional and physical injuries, but also result in considerable medical bills and loss wages. Depending on the specific facts of the situation, an attorney may be able to assist you in obtaining compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured, as well as recover the expenses related to your medical bills and lost wages.
Please contact the attorneys of Swartz & Lynch if you have any questions about a product liability claim. We have successfully handled many cases involving burn injuries.