Compensation claims for injury and damage caused by faulty, defective products normally target either the producer or supplier of the goods. This is usually the manufacturer or retailer of the product, though claims may also involve various other parties. Under the principle of strict liability imposed on those handling or passing on products, it is not necessary for a claimant to prove that the defending party was at fault or negligent. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 which incorporates EU law only requires proof that a product was defective, and that the defect caused a person’s injury or damage to their property. For this reason defective product claims are often relatively easy to pursue once a product’s defect has been clearly established. Many product liability claims are multi-party (referred to in the US as ‘class action’). They will often involve a large number of claimants, and may be directed against various parties who have been involved in the production and supply of a defective product. Every party which has handled a defective product, and passed it along the supply chain, will be liable if that product goes on to cause injury or damage. They have an essential legal duty to ensure that the products they supply are safe to use.
Faulty products which pose a danger to consumers falls into four main categories; food products, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and bio-medical devices. Food products may be tainted by a number of well-documented biological viruses, including those which cause outbreaks of Salmonella and E-Coli. Food may either be unsafe to eat, or it may also be inaccurately and misleadingly labelled. Allergy warnings for example may be missing with potentially life-threatening consequences. Consumer goods refer to everyday household items such as electrical appliances, furniture and children’s toys. Such products may contain defects which pose a fire hazard, or which render them otherwise dangerous. Instructions may lack essential details, or a product may not be supplied with appropriate safety warnings. Pharmaceutical products normally refer to medications and cosmetics. Despite the rigorous testing requirements for prescription medicines, defects and dangers may not become apparent until long after a product has hit the open market. Beauty products such as skin peel solutions may contain defects such as chemical imbalances which can have devastating consequences. Bio-medical devices are products used for reasons of health or aesthetic appearance. This includes products which are implanted such as heart valves and silicon bags, as well as cosmetic products such as nose rings and temporary tattoos.
Laws regarding the supply of defective products apply both in Britain and across the EU. Where a product originates from outside the EU, any defect will be held to be the responsibility of the importer or retailer. Claims may be complicated if a product has been assembled from multiple small parts, or has been assembled in various different places. In such instances it may be difficult or impossible to establish where exactly the product defect lies. A product may also be rendered defective if it altered in any way. This would apply to an electrical shop servicing a washing machine for example. The shop would have a legal duty to hand back the appliance in a state that is safe to use. Defective product claims must involve a product that is under 10 years old, and the claim must be initiated within 3 years of the date of injury or illness diagnosis. Our Bartletts solicitors have had extensive experience with defective product compensation claims over the past twenty years. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis meaning if you win your case you keep all of the damages awarded, and if you lose you will not pay a penny.