How are producers liable?
When dealing with product liability claims, there are several possible causes of action. Possibly the most important is the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (“the CPA”). Under the CPA, producers of defective products are subject to strict liability. This means that a Claimant will not need to prove that the producer has been negligent. A claim will succeed if the Claimant can show that there was a defect in the product, that the Claimant suffered damage, whether that is personal injury or property damage, and that the defect was the cause of that damage. The CPA defines a product as being defective if the safety of the product falls below the standard that people are entitled to expect. This will take into account how the product is marketed, the product’s use, any instructions provided and what could reasonably be expected to be done with the product. It is also important to note that the time a product was supplied will be taken into account, and a defect will not be inferred solely because a safer product has been supplied later.
In addition to CPA claims, product liability claims can also be brought in negligence. This is the same principle as most other personal injury claims. Unlike CPA claims, to succeed in a negligence claim the Claimant must be able to show that the Defendant has breached a duty of care. Potentially a claim could also be made for a breach of contract. This may be under a term in the contract relating to the product, or a term implied into the contract by the Consumer Rights Act.
What compensation is available?
As in all personal injury claims, damages can be grouped into two categories- general damages and special damages. General damages are intended to compensate for the pain and suffering caused by the negligent act. Special damages covers expenses incurred as a result of the injuries caused. This can include lost earnings, care costs and private medical treatment. These may be expenses that have already been incurred or likely future expenses.
When can a claim be made?
Claims must be brought within certain time periods. The rules differ depending on the cause of action. Claims under the CPA must generally be brought within three years of either the date the cause of action accrued, or the claimant’s date of knowledge that there was a cause of action. There is also an absolute limit on claims of ten years from the date the product first entered the market.
The time limit for claims based in negligence or breach of contract will depend on the nature of the claim. If there is a personal injury, the limitation period will be three years from the date of the injury or the date of the Claimant’s knowledge of the injury. If the claim is for damages other than personal injury, such as property damage, the limitation period is six years.
Field Overell LLP are experts in personal injury claims. If you wish to discuss the matters raised in this article contact our offices on 024 7622 9582. Our solicitors have decades of experience assisting clients in Coventry and Warwickshire.
This article is provided for information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. No reliance should be placed on this article. You should always take legal advice from a qualified lawyer before deciding whether to pursue legal action.