According to the Liability for Defective Products Act, 1991, the onus lies on the injured person to prove how the accident happened. They also must show that the defect caused the sustained injuries. Faulty products pose a serious threat to the health and safety of the end user. Product liability laws are not as straightforward as other personal injury claims. Therefore, it is advisable that you speak with an injury claims solicitor to determine whether your case is suitable or not. Goods may be faulty and defective for a number of reasons. More often than not it is the manufacturer who is found liable for any accidents or injuries sustained. However, in some cases, it can be the retailer who sold the product who is found liable if they have been damaged while on sale. An important first step in the claims process is determining who is liable for the cause of the accident. Defective product examples can include vehicles, beauty products, electrical equipment, gardening tools, children’s toys and medical devices.
Liability for Defective Products Act, 1991
This Act is in place to determine liability for injuries sustained as a result of a defective product. This Act states that the manufacturer will be held responsible for any damages to either property or an individual caused as a result of product defects. A product is deemed to be defective if it fails to provide for the health and safety of a person. The producer of a product is expected to show a duty of care to all users, especially when determining if a product is defective.
This Act takes the following into account:
- When the product was made available
- The presentation of the product
- How the product is expected to be used
It is important to note that a product is not seen to be defective if a better product is made available. When making a defective product claim, it is the responsibility of the injured party to prove that any injuries or accidents were caused as a result of the defects of the product.
A producer will not be found liable if they can prove that the defect which caused the injury did not exist. Especially at the time it was placed on the market or if there was a defect in the design. This is because they may have only provided a component of the product which did not contribute to any accidents or injury.
Who is the Producer?
According to the Liability for Defective Products Act 1991, the producer of a product is generally identified as anybody who:
- Is involved in the manufacturing of a finished product or its individual parts
- Processes any raw materials such as livestock, farming or other soil products
- Puts their own name or trademark on the product
- Imported the product from a place outside the European communities
Product Defect Types
There are a number of defects in a product that can make it unsafe to use and that have resulted in a product liability claim, the most common three some include;
This is generally as a result of a defective component or material which is used during the manufacturing stages of production. A common cause of this is poor workmanship or using cheaply produced materials which may not be of a high quality. In this case, it will be the producer of the product who is seen as liable for injuries sustained as a result.
This is an issue with the design of the product which makes it dangerous to use. This can still occur even if the product is manufactured correctly with the highest quality materials. This could result in the product being unsafe for the intended use.
Marketing Defects (Insufficient Warnings or Directions)
This is one of the most common types of product defects. It is generally associated with failing to make people aware of any known hazards or dangers associated with the product. Every retailer and manufacturer has a duty to ensure that all consumers are notified of any risks. An easy way to communicate this to the customer is to place warning labels on the product. Which outlines any important information that is needed to ensure the safe use of any product.
Some of the common injuries sustained in defective product liability claims include:
Using defective materials is one of the leading causes of faulty products. This can lead to the product breaking or causing injury to the person using it. This can occur even if only one of the components is defective. The manufacturer has a duty of care to ensure that this does not happen and that they are using good quality materials.
A poorly designed product can lead to it becoming inherently dangerous to use. This can lead to various injuries being sustained. All products should be designed so that they are practical and safe to use for the purpose intended, and also for anything else that the product can be used for.
Lack of Training
Lack of training of manufacturing employees can lead to faulty and defective products as they may not be aware of how to correctly produce the item. It is important that all employees are trained prior to carrying out the task required. Training helps to ensure that products are manufactured correctly and to the highest standard so as to avoid any injuries from being sustained during use. It is up to the employer to ensure that this training is provided to all staff.
Failing to Notify Consumers
All retailers and manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that they make people aware of any known hazards or risks associated with the use of a product. Failing to do so can result in unsafe use which may result in injuries being sustained. If a retailer is aware of any potential dangers which may lead to the occurrence of an accident they should make use of warning signs and labels which clearly outline the information which is to be made available to the customer.
What to do after an accident at work*?
Following an accident at work, there are a number of steps you should follow:
Seek medical attention
Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after an accident at work, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.
For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to more serious injuries in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.
Report the accident
It is critical to report the accident to your superior, i.e. a supervisor or manager on site. It doesn’t matter how small you think the accident may be. By law, accidents at work are required to be reported if the person is injured and can’t perform their daily work tasks for more than three days. Make sure to fill out an Accident Report Form. This can be used for reference in any medical examination and will also prevent any similar accidents from happening in the future.
Identify any witnesses
If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed your accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a workplace accident claim. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where your accident happened.
Document the incident
It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:
- How the accident happened
- Details of any witnesses
- If there are any CCTV recordings of your accident
- Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused your accident
Speak to a workplace accident solicitor
If you are considering moving forward with a workplace accident claim for any personal injuries sustained, it is advisable that you speak with a workplace accident claims solicitor as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for assessment. A workplace accident solicitor can help you in preparing your application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.
It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.