In cases where a personal injury has been caused by a potentially defective product, it may possible to bring a claim for compensation against the manufacturer or supplier of the product under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
Under section 3 of this Act, a product is defective if the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect.
In determining for the purposes of what persons are generally entitled to expect, all the circumstances shall be taken into account, including:
- the manner in which and the purposes for which the product has been marketed;
- the use of any mark in relation to the product and any instructions for, or warnings with respect to, doing or refraining from doing anything with or in relation to the product;
- what might reasonably be expected to be done with or in relation to the product; and
- the time when the product was supplied by its producer to another.
Examples of potential product liability claims
Some examples of potential product liability claims are as follows:
- Injuries caused by defective medical devices.
- Injuries caused by defective medical implants.
- Injuries caused by defective medication/pharmaceutical drugs or vaccines.
- Injuries caused by contaminated medical products.
- Accidents or injuries caused by a defective vehicle.
- Injuries caused by a defective piece of equipment or appliance.
What you need to prove
In order to succeed with a claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, you will need to prove that:
- The product was defective.
- You were injured and/or suffered a loss.
- There is a causal link between the defective product and the injury and/or the loss.
- You were using the product as it was intended.
What are the time limitations on claiming for a defective product?
In order to bring a product liability claim, Court proceedings must be issued within 3 years of the date of injury/damage or, if later, three years from the date of knowledge (when a Claimant found out that the injury sustained was caused by a defective product.
The Limitation Act 1980 also introduces a 10 year longstop rule which requires that Court proceedings for claims for personal injury caused by a defective product, brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, must be issued within 10 years from the date that the product was put into market circulation. This a strict time limit and the Court does not have any discretion to disapply the 10 year period.
If this 10 year period expires before the 3 year statutory limitation period, the earlier date will apply.
Steps your solicitor will take when you take legal action for an injury caused by a defective product
Some or all of the following steps may be taken when investigating a potential claim:
- Obtain a detailed statement from the injured person setting out the events in chronological order, the details of the injury sustained and the impact of the injury.
- Arrange funding.
- Obtain the injured person’s medical records and any other relevant documentation.
- Obtain all relevant documentation from the manufacturer of the product.
- Obtain independent expert evidence setting out the expert’s opinion as to whether the product is defective.
- Obtain independent expert medical evidence setting out the expert’s opinion on the cause of the injury, together with the condition of the injured person and their prognosis.
- Writing to the Defendant and setting out the basis of the claim, including the alleged defects of product together with the details of the injury sustained.
- The Defendant will then investigate the claim. They will then confirm whether they admit or deny some or all of the aspects of the claim.
- Considering the prospects of success of the claim, together with the next steps.