Product Liability

What is product liability?

Product liability is the legal liability a trader or manufacturer is under obligation to provide. If products are not ‘fit for purpose’, the trader in question is legally responsible for any injury or damage that is caused by the fault. A person who has suffered injury due to a faulty product may wish to make a product liability claim, which they are allowed to do so under the 1987 Consumer Protection Act.

Businesses are liable for claims if:

  • Their business had repaired, refurbished or changed the product somehow
  • They imported the product from outside the EU
  • The manufacturer is out of business
  • Their business name or logo is on the product
  • The manufacturer cannot be clearly identified

There are four main categories in which product liability compensation claims may fall into: defective design, defective manufacturing, negligent surveillance and failure to exhibit sufficient warning.

Defective design

A defectively designed product may lead to early product failure, which can in turn cause inherent danger and personal injuries either before or after the product failure has occurred.

Hip implants can cause this issue, particularly metal on metal. The latter have resulted in a high rate of metal wear particles, which can cause extensive damage to those who have had this type of hip implant.

Other examples of defective design include:

  • A line of electric blankets that cause fires
  • Sunglasses which do not protect the eyes from UV light
  • Part of a toy not being attached properly and it causing a child to choke
  • Failure of contraceptive devices

Defective manufacturing

This usually happens due to a lack of effective quality control and can result in injuries caused to children by playing with defective toys, defective appliances or equipment causing injury, unsafe medical products and injury caused to the skin, hair or scalp.

Examples of defective manufacturing include:

  • Missing brake pads on a vehicle
  • Tainted medicine
  • Cracked chains on a play area swing

Failure to exhibit sufficient warning

Any product that is sold within the EU holds its manufacturers responsible for providing adequate warning if it poses a potential hazard to the consumer’s health.

If manufacturers fail to issue this type of warning and you suffer a personal injury as a result, you may be entitled to make a product liability claim.

Examples of this include:

  • A company not alerting the consumer that a product contains small parts unsuitable for children and a child ends up choking on them
  • A pharmaceutical company failing to warn those taking a certain kind of medication of a side effect that they clearly know about

Negligent surveillance

This also covers when a manufacturer discovers a problem and fails to announce that it exists. A manufacturer may also be guilty of negligent surveillance if they issue inadequate warnings, for example if the faulty product’s code or batch number isn’t included in an issued warning.

Examples of negligent surveillance include:

  • A brewery failing to recall bottles of beer due to a number of bottles having particles of glass in them
  • Failure to withdraw food with incorrect day coding on a time-limited product such as one containing prawns
  • A dummy/soother manufacturer failing to recall a product which has a detachable teat, thus posing the risk of a child choking

Multi-party claims

There are some situations where many people are injured or affected by a faulty product and so a multi-party claim may occur. This is where many people take action towards a manufacturer for the injury caused by the defective product/s.

If you’ve suffered an accident or injury as a result of a faulty product, it’s understandable to want to pursue a compensation claim. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to get in touch and discuss your case with one of our expert advisors, who are committed to helping you get the outcome you deserve.