When a product is sold to a buyer and the product is defective such that the buyer suffers an injury, the buyer may raise a personal injury claim. A consumer can raise a claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and by way of common law negligence.
Consumer Rights Act 2015
Buyers that have sustained injury from a product can bring a claim for breach of contract under the Consumers Rights Act 2015. It is only the purchaser that can bring a claim for breach of contract and only against the other party to the contract or a party specifically named in the contract. For a consumer contract to exist there must be an offer from a consumer to buy goods and acceptance of the offer. Terms in consumer contracts set out the agreement between suppliers and consumers. Any terms that are individually agreed with the consumer are called ‘express terms’. This could be the price of the goods or service if it is not fixed. There are also implied terms of a consumer contract; the implied terms set out that the goods are expected to be:
- Of satisfactory quality
- As described
- Fit for purpose
If these terms are not met, this is considered a ‘breach of the contract’. Claims for breach of contract do not need to show fault by the seller only that there has been a breach of an express of implied term. If there is a breach of contract the consumer may claim for repair or replacement of goods, full or partial refund, or damages, which is the most likely route for a personal injury claim.
Consumer Protection Act 1987
Claims under the Consumer Protection Act differ in that any consumer can bring a claim as opposed to just the purchaser. To bring a claim under the Consumer Protection Act, you must show:
- That the item in question is a product
- That the product was defective
- That the defect caused the injury and / or losses claimed
Section 1 of the act defines a product as,
“any goods or electricity and…includes a product which is comprised in another product, whether by virtue of being a component part or raw material or otherwise’.
The scope of this is quite wide meaning that a claim may be brought against both the manufacturer of the product and the manufacturer of a component within the product if more than one company was involved in the creation of the product.
The second element this claim is that the product is defective. This is defined in section 3 of the act as “a product whose safety is not such as people generally would be entitled to expect”. When determining whether a product is defective the court take into account all circumstances including the use of the product, what warning signs were provided and the time at which the product was supplied.
As the onus is on the consumer to prove breach of duty, it can often be beneficial to keep hold of receipt or proof of purchase, the defective product and any evidence of the loss or injury sustained.
It is also possible for a consumer to bring a claim under common law. However, in order to prove this you must show that the manufacturer owed you a duty of care and that their act or omission has breached that duty of care which as a result has caused you to suffer injury or loss.
A claim of this kind is a far higher threshold to pass as consumers must prove the manufacturer directly owed them a duty of care as opposed to proving a breach of contract. Thus, consumers may have more success pursuing a personal injury claim under either the Consumer Rights Act or Consumer Protection Act.
To discuss a potential product liability case contact us now to speak to a member of our specialist team.