Hello! I own a vitamin company, recently one of my customers wrote in claiming they had an allergic reaction. Our ingredients are clearly provided. We immediately provided her with a refund but afterwards she then requested payment for her hospital bills, at this time totaling $200.
We feel that we are not responsible for her allergic reaction since our product is manufactured according to proper guidelines and is properly labeled. We also reviewed her batch and have not received any complaints from any other customers. With that said, Id like to provide help but I'm afraid in doing so, I'd be "opening a can of worms". Thoughts?
An allergic reaction to an unknown allergen can happen to anyone. You do not have a duty to anticipate or prevent such. If you properly labeled all the ingredients that were actually contained in the vitamins and your manufacturing standards are up to snuff, then payment of your customer's medical bills may not be warranted. It's always a good idea to consult an attorney in your state to discuss the matter in a more detailed and confidential fashion
The author of this answer is an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of Arizona. Unless both you and the author have signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not the author's client, and the author's discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and are neither privileged nor confidential.
Construction / Development Lawyer
I think it is pretty admirable that you would like to help your customer even though on the face of it there doesn't appear to be much liability. The world needs more business owners like you. At the same time, I understand your trepidation with opening a can of worms.
I think the prudent thing to do would be to consult a local attorney that can draft a simple release of all claims. You can offer to cover the $200 in medical expenses in exchange for the customer signing the release. That way you know you're not opening a can of worms and your customer is happy.
I recommend that you ask for the medical records to back up the medical bills, that way you can make sure that the amount is correct and that they are in fact for an allergic reaction attributed to the vitamins. As honest and good natured as you may be, there's a chance your former customer is not. Getting the medical bills and records will help you ensure that you are not being taken for a ride. You can even have the attorney who drafts the release review the medical records to let you know if he or she believes they support the customer's claim for liability.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
I agree with Mr. Shah. If your company complied with all of the rules and regulations, the customer would be unable to prove that your company breached its duty of care ,and therefore have no valid cause of action. If you are adamant about providing financial help, consult with a local attorney about preparing a release of liability and hold harmless agreement. These documents can also be purchased on legal websites, but you run the risk that they will end up being unenforceable since they are merely templates and not specifically geared toward your problem. Good luck.
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