Injury from a defective product is rare but it can have significant, life changing consequences.
From exploding mobile phone batteries to dangerous breast implants, switched on consumers are looking to the Courts for redress against manufacturers when their reasonable expectations as to safety and quality are not met.
Consumers rely on manufacturers to produce quality products that are safe for us to use. We place a huge amount of trust in the guidance that accompanies products, believing it to be laid out with clarity and honesty. Unfortunately that is not always the case.
Things do go wrong, and if a product has a fundamentally dangerous design or a defect develops during manufacturing which results in injury, there may be grounds for a claim against the manufacturer or supplier. Product liability claims can also be brought against manufacturers that fail to place adequate safety warnings on their products.
If you or someone in your family was injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation; however, there are certain steps you must take for your claim to be successful.
Seek Medical Care
This should be of the utmost priority if you are injured by a defective product. Not only for your personal safety but also because your medical records provide an independent record of your injury and the treatment that had to be provided as a result of the defective product. Additionally, they help to show the length of time it took for your injury to heal.Postponing medical treatment could lead to your injuries worsening over time and impact on the length of your recovery. Your own safety and wellbeing should be your number one priority.
Keep the product along with your proof of purchase
Do not throw away the product that has injured you unless saving it would be dangerous or hazardous to your health. Make sure you do not tamper with it in any way. Simply put it in a safe place until you can speak to a solicitor. Make sure to keep hold of all the documentation and instructions that came with the product, and the original packaging if you still have it. If you still have your receipt or in the case of a medical product, if you have details of the lot number, serial number or batch number, make sure to also keep these in the safe place with the product (if you are able to store it safely).It can also be useful to take a photo of the product to keep an accurate record as to the condition of the product at the time of the incident.
The UK law requires potential claimants to “mitigate” their loss. This means that you must be seen to be taking steps to minimise your injury and the impact it has on your daily life. Make sure to take the time to recover properly, take time off work if you need to but be sure to return to your normal daily routine as soon as you feel able.
Document your recovery process
To support your claim, you must be able to show evidence of your injury, how long it took to heal and your recovery at different times. It can be useful to photograph your injury periodically to record the healing process and your recovery. It is also useful to keep a diary of your symptoms and the way in which your injury has impacted your day to day life. This includes any time off work or medications you have had to buy to aid your recovery. You may find these documents and photographic evidence useful when, later down the line at Trial, a Judge asks you to recall how you felt during recovery.
Check the News
If you are harmed by a product that is commonly available on the market, it is likely that, if that product is defective, other people may have been harmed too. It is quite rare for a defective product to injure just one person. Social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and news websites can be useful tools to research the product and other people that may have been similarly affected. You may find some useful resources in the form of blogs or a group of people considering pursuing legal claims. If so, take note of any advice you find and any groups that are forming and be sure to tell your solicitor.
In the UK, defective products should be reported through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. Their details are:
Telephone: 03454 04 05 06
It is important to take action to report a defective product to assist authorities in monitoring the market and if necessary, to prompt manufacturers to issue a recall of the defective items.
After you have addressed any immediate injuries, contact a product liability lawyer. One of our specialist Product Liability solicitors can discuss your case with you during a free telephone consultation and help determine if you have the grounds for a claim.
Article written by Tamlin Bolton, Solicitor at Pryers.