Nuclear verdicts are the result of juries that award excessive damages to plaintiffs in civil lawsuits. These verdicts can be particularly dangerous for corporations/manufacturers, as they can have a devastating financial impact on organizations.
One way for corporations to reduce the risk of a nuclear verdict is to have a solid, comprehensive product or machine safety strategy in place. That includes safety measures – risk assessments, safeguards, on-product safety labels, warnings, and instructions, and product manuals – that are looked at holistically and evaluated continuously. Voluntary label and sign standards, like some of those represented by ANSI and ISO, are developed by experts in the field and provide guidelines for how to communicate safety information effectively. By complying with these standards, corporations can demonstrate to juries that they took reasonable steps to warn users about potential hazards.
This can be helpful in a number of ways. First, it can make it more difficult for plaintiffs to argue that the corporation/manufacturer was negligent. Second, it can help to reduce the amount of damages that a jury awards, even if they do find that the corporation was liable.
Here are a few specific examples of how complying with voluntary label and sign standards can reduce the impact of a nuclear jury verdict:
- Reduced punitive damages: Punitive damages are awarded to punish defendants for egregious misconduct. Juries are more likely to award punitive damages if they believe that the defendant was reckless or indifferent to safety. By complying with voluntary label and sign standards, corporations can demonstrate to juries that they took safety seriously. This can make it less likely that a jury will award punitive damages, even if they find that the corporation was liable.
- Reduced compensatory damages: Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate plaintiffs for the losses they have suffered. One of the factors that juries consider when awarding compensatory damages is the severity of the plaintiff's injuries. If a plaintiff's injuries are caused by a product that was not properly labeled or that did not have adequate safety warnings, the jury may be more likely to award higher compensatory damages. By complying with voluntary label and sign standards, corporations can help to reduce the risk of severe injuries if even some of the instructed safety steps were taken, which can lead to lower compensatory damages awards.
- Increased likelihood of settlement: Plaintiffs are more likely to settle their cases if they believe that they have a weak case or if they are concerned about the cost of litigation. By complying with voluntary label and sign standards, corporations can make it more difficult for plaintiffs to prove their case and can reduce the cost of litigation. This can make plaintiffs more likely to settle their cases, which can avoid the risk of a nuclear jury verdict altogether.
An Improved Safety Culture
In addition to reducing the risk of a nuclear jury verdict, complying with voluntary label and sign standards can also benefit corporations in a number of other ways, including enhancing your safety culture by:
- Improved product safety: By complying with voluntary label and sign standards, manufacturers can help to ensure that their products are properly labeled and that safety information is communicated effectively to users. This can help to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Enhanced brand reputation: Consumers and end-user purchasers are more likely to trust corporations and manufacturers that comply with voluntary safety standards. This is because they know that these organizations are committed to safety. A good brand reputation can lead to increased sales and profits.
- Reduced product liability risk: In general, corporations that comply with voluntary safety standards are less likely to be sued in the event of an accident. This is because they can demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to warn users about potential hazards.
How to Comply with Best
Practice Visual Warnings Standards
Brands or manufacturers that are interested in complying with best practice label and sign standards should take the following steps:
- Identify the relevant standards. There are a number of voluntary, best practice, and mandatory label and sign standards that apply to different industries and products. Manufacturers should identify the standards that are relevant to their products and operations.
- Assess their current compliance. You should assess any current compliance with the relevant standards. This will help to identify any areas where improvement is needed.
- Develop & implement a compliance plan. Corporations should develop and implement a plan to achieve compliance with the relevant standards. This plan should include specific goals and deadlines, which can be monitored on an ongoing basis.
You can also seek guidance from a qualified expert on best practice label and sign standards if you’re having trouble identifying and assessing your compliance goals, or need a second opinion.
Visual Safety Communication
Optimizing your safety strategy has a twofold benefit: it increases end user safety, and also displays a positive company safety culture if a lawsuit were to unfold. If you’re looking for a starting point to assess your workplace or machine safety labels, signs, or even a more in depth risk assessment, reach out to our team of safety professionals today!