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Does the misuse of a product impact a liability case?

If you're injured while using a product, the manufacturer may claim that you were misusing it. How is this going to impact the case?

The reason the manufacturer will take this route is that the company will try to prove you would not have been hurt if you had used it properly. The only reason you were injured was because of the misuse, which was your own fault. Therefore, they'll claim that they are not liable for the injuries.

This can work, but it does not in all cases. For one thing, they must be able to prove that you were misusing the product. This can be hard to do, especially if you maintain that you used it as directed.

Additionally, the company may have to show that the misuse was not reasonably foreseeable. If the product is confusing, for example, and so misuse could happen easily, they may have to put a warning label to tell you how to use it. Without a label and instructions on how to use it correctly, you could still argue that it's the company's fault because this neglect caused you to use it improperly. You didn't mean to misuse it and they should have had instructions on how to use it properly.

Remember, companies have an obligation to make sure that their products are safe, and part of this involves telling consumers how to use them correctly, especially when looking at dangerous products like power tools, firearms, and the like.

If you've been injured in Ontario, make sure you know what the manufacturer was obligated to do and how to show that the injuries were not your fault.

Source:, "Strict Liability and Product Liability," accessed March 29, 2016

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