Every consumer is entitled to assume that the products they buy meet the required standards and are safe for use. Nobody expects to be injured by an item they purchased, but sometimes a faulty product can lead to severe and even life-threatening injuries.
If you suffered an injury due to a faulty product, you might be able to make a product liability claim. Under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, manufacturers hold strict responsibility if an item they sold was defective and caused harm to the consumer.
Some of the products most commonly associated with a defective product claim include cosmetics, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, cars and bicycles.
As almost any product could have a manufacturing or design error, there are a wide range of injuries associated with faulty products. These include burns, electrocution, scarring, allergic reactions, fractures, head injuries and cancer.
If you believe you suffered an injury due to a faulty product, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you have a valid product liability claim, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee service. This enables you to pursue compensation without worrying about upfront costs or financial risks.
What is a product liability claim?
As a consumer, you have the right to assume that the products you buy are safe for their intended use. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as some companies may focus more on profits than quality and customer safety.
Product liability is the area of law which holds a manufacturer or supplier responsible when a faulty product has caused injury to a consumer. If a product or any of its parts are defective, the manufacturer may be liable for damages under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA) or the common law of negligence.
You can bring a product liability claim for death, physical and psychological injury and damage caused to personal property. You cannot, however, recover damages for pure economic loss.
Defective product claims typically fall into three categories of product liability:
Perhaps the most evident type of product liability, a claim can be brought under this category if the injury-causing product was flawed due to a manufacturing error. Examples of a manufacturing defect include:
- The wrong material being used in the making of a product
- Incorrect bolts or fasteners
- Products tainted with dangerous substances or impurities
- Mechanical defects on cars or bicycles
- Incorrectly attached parts
Manufacturing defects may arise from an error on the assembly line, making a particular product different from the others. In each case, you must be able to prove that the manufacturing defect was directly responsible for your injury.
Defective design claims do not arise from manufacturing errors but from an entire line of products that are inherently dangerous even when used as instructed. Common examples of faulty design include:
- Unstable structures that collapse, such as chairs or trampolines
- A particular car model that tends to flip over while turning a corner
- Batteries that catch on fire when used within their capacity
- Incorrectly wired products that start fires or cause electrocutions
- Products intended for children that contain choking hazards
A design defect can indicate that the manufacturer did not accurately test the product before releasing it. A mistake in a product’s design often leads to large-scale product recalls.
Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions
Some products may be potentially dangerous if used in a way that is not immediately obvious to the consumer. Failure to provide adequate warnings and instructions about the proper use of a product can cause severe injuries and even death. As a result, the manufacturer is strictly liable for the damage caused. Common examples of marketing defects include:
- Failure to list the side effects of medicine on the bottle
- Potentially hazardous substances that do not have instructions for safe handling
- Advertisements encouraging improper use
- False or vague claims about a product
- Insufficient or unclear directions on how to use a product
- Missing age-appropriate warnings on toys
If you suffered an injury due to a product, it could take considerable skill, time and resources to show that it had a defect. Therefore, you should contact a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible to discuss your options.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and can answer any questions you may have.
Can I make a product liability claim?
If you suffered an injury or a pre-existing condition was made worse due to a faulty product, you may be able to claim compensation. A free consultation with a legal adviser is the quickest and easiest way to find out whether you have a valid product liability claim.
If your case is valid, you could make a negligence claim or a claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. In a negligence claim, you would have to establish the following:
- Another party, namely a manufacturer or distributor, owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty by failing to exercise reasonable care with regard to a product
- You suffered an actual personal injury or loss due to their faulty product
- Their breach of duty was the actual cause of your injury
A negligence claim relies on the assumption that a manufacturer owes a duty of care to everyone expected to use their product. Liability may also extend to other parties who supplied components or distributed the product.
The Consumer Protection Act provides for strict liability in respect of defective products. This means that if you suffered an injury due to a faulty product, the manufacturer is automatically responsible for your damages. You do not have to prove they were negligent or at fault.
To bring a claim under the Consumer Protection Act, you only need to show three things:
- The product was defective
- The product caused the injury and losses you are claiming
- The defendant is responsible for the product
A product is defective if it is not as safe as you are reasonably entitled to expect. Once it is established the product was faulty, the defendant has several potential defences against your product liability claim, including that the defect did not exist at the time it was put into circulation.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your accident, a negligence claim may succeed if a claim would not be available under the Consumer Protection Act. Regardless of your claim, you should try to obtain and keep the following evidence when possible:
- The actual faulty product
- Any receipt or proof of purchase of the product
- The packaging it came in
- The instruction manual or other paperwork it came with
- Photographs of the defect that caused your accident
- Pictures of the injuries you sustained
- Contact details of any witnesses to the accident
- Medical records of your injuries
- Proof of financial losses and expenses incurred due to the defective product
What are the laws on defective products?
Anyone producing or selling goods in the UK must follow the strict rules dictated by legislation to ensure their items will not cause harm to customers. The law states that:
- All items sold within the UK have to be safe for use and fit for their intended purpose
- Customers must be alerted regarding any possible risks and side effects
- Product safety must be carefully monitored
- Manufacturers and sellers must take action if a problem is discovered
- Enough information must be provided to customers to understand possible risks of the product
These and many other rules and regulations are set out by several pieces of legislation, such as:
The Consumer Protection Act 1987
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 is an Act of Parliament that introduced a regime of strict liability for damage arising from faulty products. This means that if a defect in a particular product caused you injury, the manufacturer would be automatically liable to pay you compensation.
The main points of the Act are:
- Consumers are entitled to assume that the products they buy are safe for their intended use.
- If a product is not as safe as reasonably expected, it is considered defective.
- If you suffered an injury from a faulty product, you do not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent.
- The Act does not only cover the person who purchased the faulty product. Anyone who suffers damage when using the defective product is entitled to make a product liability claim.
- You can begin a court case within three years after an injury and no more than ten years after the product was put into circulation.
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR) provide the basis for ensuring the safety of consumer products by imposing a series of requirements and controls. These aim to ensure that all products used under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions are safe.
According to the GPSR, a product is considered safe if it does not pose any unnecessary risk to anyone when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner. To ensure this, manufacturers must consider, among other things:
- The packaging and accompanying instructions
- The effects of the product on other products with which it may be foreseeably used
- The unique requirements of particular individuals, especially children
Manufacturers must provide consumers with relevant information to help them assess the inherent risks of a product and take precautions against them. Otherwise, they may be liable for compensation in a defective product claim.
The Trade Descriptions Act 1968
The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 prevents manufacturers, providers and sellers from misleading consumers by making false claims about their products. Under the Act, applying dishonest trade descriptions to goods is a strict liability offence.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015
The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 to consolidate existing consumer protection legislation and introduce several updates, such as your rights regarding faulty digital content. According to the Act, all products, whether physical or digital, must meet the following standards:
- Be fit for the purpose they are supplied for
- Match any description or samples shown to you at the time of purchase
- Be of satisfactory quality
If the product you bought does not satisfy one or more of these criteria, you can claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2005.
If you believe that a manufacturer, seller or importer is responsible for an injury caused by a faulty product, your solicitor will use the appropriate legislation to prove liability.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a defective product claim and answer any questions you may have.
What are the most common defective products that cause injuries?
Almost any product can be dangerous and cause an injury if it is faulty or lacks proper safety instructions. The most common types of product liability compensation claims are listed below, but you may have a valid claim even if your experience is not listed here:
Medical devices and implants
Before reaching a patient, any medical equipment used in treatment is rigorously tested. Even so, some defective devices may slip through the net and cause severe injury to patients. You can claim for faulty products used in your treatment, such as breast or dental implants, pacemakers, hip replacements or knee joints, even if you did not buy the defective item.
Cosmetic and beauty treatments
These can include a wide range of faulty products like hair dye, lipstick, creams, makeup and lotions. Flawed cosmetic products can cause many injuries such as allergic reactions, hair loss, asthma, skin damage and even cancer. Equipment such as electrolysis, CO2, Dot laser machines or hair straighteners can also cause burn injuries and scarring.
Food and lifestyle supplements
Food and lifestyle supplements are intended to improve your health and well-being, but some of the ingredients they might contain could cause you harm. Supplements such as velocity fat burning tablets, 2-4 Dinitrophenol and Tri-Methyl Xtreme can cause serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, infertility, and liver or kidney damage.
Despite extensive and rigorous development and testing, medicines can sometimes cause problems after being released onto the market. You may be able to claim product liability compensation if you suffered an injury or your condition worsened due to faulty pharmaceuticals such as aspirin or paracetamol. The defects may be due to the formula itself or a manufacturing problem with a specific batch.
Electrical equipment and products
From mobile phones to white goods and industrial machinery, a faulty electrical product carries a risk of fire, electric shock and even explosion. The Consumer Protection Act applies both to products used by consumers and used at a place of work. You could make a product liability claim even if you were injured by faulty equipment in the workplace.
Leisure and motorised vehicles
Driving in a defective vehicle such as a car or motorbike can have devastating consequences, especially when travelling at high speeds. Statistics show that vehicle defects caused 1,443 road accidents in the UK in 2018. Of these, the majority were due to faulty brakes or tyres.
Recreational vehicles such as bicycles, boats, scooters or skateboards may also cause injuries that can range from minor to life-threatening. Proving that a specific defect or fault has actually caused the accident can be tricky, so it is essential to seek legal advice if you want to pursue product liability compensation.
Gym and sports equipment
Gym equipment, including treadmills, rowing machines and weight exercising machines, are primarily used by people to exercise and stay in shape. Unfortunately, a faulty product such as a strength machine can cause severe injuries due to the loads an accident can place on the body.
Many outdoor sporting activities often involve the use of equipment, such as safety helmets, diving gear or harnesses. If such equipment is not in perfect working order, an accident may cause severe and even fatal injuries.
There are many ways in which an illness, injury and even fatality can occur as a result of defective furniture. This includes allergic reactions to chemicals in the fabrics, poorly designed furnishings that collapse, shattering glass in coffee tables or furniture that catches fire easily. If a manufacturer released a faulty product that caused an injury, you might be due compensation.
Children’s toys and games
The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 state all the obligations manufacturers, distributors and importers must fulfil to ensure a high level of toy safety. The toys put into circulation, including the chemicals they contain, must not jeopardise the health or safety of users in a foreseeable way.
They must contain clearly marked information preceded by the word ‘Warning’ on any hazards and risks involved in using the toy and how to avoid them. If your child suffered an injury due to a faulty toy, you may be eligible to make a defective product claim on their behalf.
Tools and gardening equipment
Lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, electric drills, jigsaws and many other power tools can sometimes be faulty and cause a severe injury to the user. Even non-powered tools such as ladders and hacksaws may cause harm if they have a defect.
Although some of these products are inherently dangerous, you should be eligible to claim if you can prove that your injury was due to a defect rather than incorrect usage.
If you believe your accident was due to a faulty product, you might be entitled to claim compensation. To find out if you have a valid product liability claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a friendly legal adviser.
How long do I have to make a product liability claim?
The Limitation Act 1980 sets the time limit to bring any type of personal injury claim to three years after an accident. Furthermore, according to the Consumer Protection Act 1987, product liability claims must be brought within ten years after the product was first put into circulation.
If you do not start legal proceedings within three years after suffering an injury or if more than ten years have passed since the product launch date, your case becomes statute-barred. Only in exceptional circumstances may a judge allow a time extension to claim product liability compensation.
There are several exceptions to the three-year limitation date, including:
- In cases where an injury is not immediately recognised, the time limit to make a defective product claim is three years after the date of knowledge. This refers to the date you knew or should have known that your injury was due to a faulty product and significant enough to take legal action.
- If the victim is a child, the time limit only begins once they turn 18, and they will have until their 21st birthday to claim. Before that point, a parent, guardian or another litigation friend can claim on their behalf at any time, regardless of when the accident occurred.
- There is no time limit to bring a product liability claim on behalf of a victim who suffered such a severe injury that they cannot conduct legal proceedings themselves. If the victim recovers, they will have three years to claim compensation.
- Under the Mental Capacity Act, if a victim is a protected party, there is no time limit to claim product liability compensation on their behalf.
- It is also possible to claim if a loved one suffered a fatal injury due to a faulty product. You could make a claim within three years from the date they passed away, or you received the post-mortem results.
As a general rule, the sooner you start your claim, the easier it is to gather evidence and build a strong case. As this could take a lot of time, some solicitors will not accept a claim with less than six months left before the limitation date.
If you feel you may have a valid product liability claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Can I make a defective product claim on behalf of a relative?
According to the Court of Protection Rules 2007, you can claim product liability compensation on behalf of another person if:
- You can fairly and competently conduct legal proceedings on their behalf
- You have no interests adverse to those of the person you want to represent
If you wish to act as a litigation friend on behalf of another person, you must:
- File a certificate of suitability stating that you satisfy the conditions above
- Serve the certificate of suitability to the person you want to serve and every other person who is a party to the proceedings.
If you decide to represent someone in a product liability claim, you should know this could be a long-time commitment that brings many responsibilities, such as:
- Approve and sign legal documents
- Make decisions in the victim’s best interests
- Pay any costs ordered by the court
- Keep updated on the proceedings
- Meet with the solicitor and get advice from them
- Give instructions to the solicitor
- Consider any settlement offers
You could make a defective product claim on behalf of a loved one in the following circumstances:
- Your child or another relative who is under 18
- Although you can claim on behalf of a minor, you cannot access their compensation award. Instead, the money will be kept in a court bank account and will gain interest until the victim turns 18. The court will only allow early payments to cover medical or education costs you cannot otherwise afford.
- A protected party who, according to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, lacks the intellectual ability to conduct legal proceedings due to either:
- Suffering from severe sleep deprivation
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- A neurodegenerative disorder such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
- A mental health disorder like depression or schizophrenia
- An intellectual disability such as autism or developmental delay
- A relative who suffered a traumatic brain injury or another severe trauma due to a faulty product, leaving them incapacitated and unable to take legal action. If they recover from their disability, you will be released from your duties as litigation friend.
- Someone whose first language is not English and would have issues understanding and communicating with their solicitor.
To find out more about representing a loved one in a product liability claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. If you would prefer to receive a call back, please enter your details into our online claim form.
How much compensation can I claim for injuries caused by a faulty product?
Each product liability claim is unique, so it is difficult to say how much compensation you might receive if you win your case. Your solicitor will consider all the factors related to your accident to calculate a fair settlement, including:
- The type and extent of your injuries
- How they have affected your daily life
- Any long-term or permanent effects of your injuries
- The related financial losses and expenses you incurred
The compensation for a faulty product injury will be paid to you based on two categories of damages, known as general and special damages.
Special damages – this covers the financial losses you have experienced as a direct result of your accident, which could include:
- Medical expenses for consultation fees, medication, interventions or physical therapy
- Lost wages if you had to take time off your job during recovery
- Loss of earning capacity if your injuries do not allow you to return to work or you have to take a lower-paying job
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle if you are left with a permanent disability
- Mobility aids or prostheses
- Costs of care and assistance with daily tasks
- Travel costs to and from medical or legal appointments
General damages – this covers the pain, suffering and personal losses, such as:
- Physical pain and disability
- Psychological and emotional trauma
- Inability to pursue a hobby or leisure activity
- Reduced quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
Special damages are out-of-pocket expenses that can be easily determined by summing up all the financial losses you can prove with evidence such as receipts. However, it can be more challenging to calculate an exact compensation award for general damages.
The Judicial College, a government department of the Ministry of Justice, sets out compensation guidelines for general damages based on the type and severity of an injury. According to them, you could receive the following compensation amounts for general damages in a successful product liability case:
- £6,890 – £10,340 for severe damage to hair leading to distress
- £8,550 – £28,240 for significant facial scarring without significant long-term psychological injury
- £6,680 – £19,390 for burn injuries causing severe non-facial scarring
- £15,320 – £46,780 for moderate leg injuries with partial recovery causing impaired mobility
- £36,770 – £122,860 for severe arm injuries causing disability and significant pain
- Up to £1,960 for a minor back injury that requires a short recovery period
- £1,450 – £8,400 for a minor head injury such as a concussion or laceration
- £3,710 – £11,820 for a hip injury that may cause a minor and short-term disability
- £1,540 – £5,860 for minor psychiatric damage where the symptoms may resolve within 12 months
Can product liability claims be made using no win no fee?
If you suffered an injury due to a faulty product, a free consultation with a legal adviser would let you know whether you qualify for a product liability claim. If your claim has merit, your solicitor will likely offer you a no win no fee agreement.
A no win no fee service is the most popular way of funding personal injury claims. It offers victims of negligence the chance to pursue compensation regardless of their financial situation and without taking any financial risks.
At the start of your case, your solicitor will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. The ATE insurance policy covers the legal costs you would usually have to pay to the defendant if your defective product claim is unsuccessful, including their solicitor’s fees.
It also covers the costs your solicitor incurred in pursuing your claim, such as:
- Police and medical reports
- Court fees
- Barrister’s fees
- Expert witness fees
Furthermore, a no win no fee agreement safeguards you against having to pay your solicitor’s legal fees if you do not win product liability compensation. This means you can be sure that your claim is valid and has a fair chance of success. Otherwise, your solicitor would not invest their time and effort into trying to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you make a no win no fee product liability claim, you only have to pay anything if your claim is successful. In this case, the following would be deducted from your compensation award:
- The cost of the ATE insurance policy, which will depend on the type and level of cover sought.
- A success fee to your solicitor, which cannot exceed 25% of the compensation award.
- The defendant will have to pay most or all of your legal fees. If there is any shortfall, this may be deducted from your settlement.
Before taking on your claim, all costs would be fully discussed with you, so there are no hidden or unexpected costs to worry about.