When you buy something from a shop or online store, you expect it to meet certain standards and be safe to use. However, products can sometimes be faulty or defective and lead to an injury being suffered or property being damaged. In this case, it may be possible for consumer protection laws to be used to claim compensation, but only if you act quickly as product liability lawyer with Step Legal Solicitors, Abid Hussain, explains.
When will a Product be Classed as Defective?
A product will be classed as defective under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 where its safety, or that of any of its component parts, is not what you are entitled to expect given current industry know-how and bearing in mind:
- the manner in which, and purpose for which, the product has been marketed;
- what people might reasonably be expected to do with the product;
- any instructions on use which have been provided;
- any warnings against use that have been issued; and
- any features of the product highlighted as posing a particular risk or danger.
A defect may be due to a design fault or manufacturing issue, damage caused to the product while in transit or within the retailer’s store, and in some cases even through deliberate third-party sabotage.
A personal injury claim will be possible where you can show that a product was defective and that this is the most likely cause of the injury you or a loved one have sustained. A claim will also be possible where use of a defective product has led to a relative’s death.
How can I tell if a Defect Exists?
If you have used a product for its intended purpose and in accordance with any instructions provided, and yet you or a relative have still suffered harm, then the chances are you are likely to be in possession of a product that can be classed as defective.
You will also know that a defect exists if a product has been recalled, which you can check by visiting: https://productrecall.campaign.gov.uk/.
There are a variety of products in circulation within the UK at the moment which are subject to a product recall, including a number of fire-risk tumble dryers manufactured by Whirlpool, certain cars made by BMW which are in danger of cutting out without warning and two brands of e-cigarettes sold by Argos fitted with batteries that may overheat and cause burns.
Other types of defective product that we have come across include:
- mobile phones with lithium batteries that have exploded while in use;
- hoverboards which have caught fire while left on charge;
- drinks machines with poorly made coffee pods which spew out boiling hot water;
- children’s high chairs with poorly fitted restraints that allow children to slip out;
- drive-on lawnmowers with poorly designed grass collection bins which have led to fingers and hands becoming trapped;
- contaminated food that has led to food poisoning; and
- contaminated cosmetics and hair-dyes that have led to skin rashes and swollen faces.
Are there any time limits for Making a Claim?
You usually have three years from the date on which the injury occurred in which to make a claim under the Consumer Protection Act, with no claim being possible unless instigated within ten years of the product being circulated. However, different time limits may apply where you seek to claim under negligence laws instead and which may mean that a claim that would otherwise be out of time can still lawfully be pursued.
For this reason, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as you become aware that a claim may be possible.
How a Solicitor can Help?
A solicitor familiar with product liability claims can help you to:
- determine whether a claim may be possible;
- arrange a medical examination to ascertain the extent of your injuries;
- make sure you receive appropriate treatment and support;
- determine who is responsible for the defect: the manufacturer, someone in the manufacturing supply chain, the product’s importer (where it originates outside of the UK) or a physical or virtual retailer;
- make contact with the business(es) believed to at fault to tell them what has happened and the injuries you have sustained;
- ask them to admit liability and agree a compensation amount;
- ask them to give you an advance payment where you are struggling financially, through what is known as an ‘interim payment’; and
- take the matter to court where liability is disputed or the compensation amount cannot be agreed.
How much Compensation will I Receive?
The amount of compensation awarded will depend on the severity of your injuries, the impact they have had on your life and the likelihood of you making a full recovery.
When settling on a figure, account will be taken of:
- the psychical and psychological injuries you have suffered;
- any medical treatment or rehabilitation therapies you require;
- any out of pocket expenses you have incurred, for example in attending GP and hospital appointments;
- any current or future loss of earnings you have, or are likely, to experience;
- the cost of any mobility aids you need to help you move around;
- the cost of any home or car adaptions needed where you have been left with a permanent disability;
- the cost of any long-term care you will require; and
- the cost of repairing or replacing any property that has been damaged.
How do I find out more?
We offer a free first interview at our easy to access offices in Crewe and can usually provide no win, no fee funding if we agree you have a case worth pursuing.