Personal Injury claims can arise out of the use of a defectively manufactured product or component. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires goods to be of satisfactory quality and to be fit for a particular purpose. The Act also requires goods to be sold as described. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that the manufacturer of the product, or any person/company putting their name on the product or using a trademark on it, is also liable and where the product is imported into the UK from outside the European Union, the importer of the product will also be liable. Liability for an injury will arise where the injury or damage was caused wholly or partly by any defect arising in relation to the product. The product is considered to be defective if the product is not in the condition that persons would generally expect for such a product in relation to its safety and considered in relation to the risk of damage to property, as well as death or personal injury. In considering liability in a product accident claim, legislation requires consideration to be given to the purposes for which the product has been marketed, how it has been set up and any instructions or warnings given when the product was sold, as well as what might reasonably be expected to be done with the product. The Consumer protection Act 1987 does state that strict liability applies to defective products but does allow the producer or supplier of the product to have a valid defence to a claim where a defect is attributable to compliance with any regulations imposed by the EU or where the defect did not exist at the relevant time or where the product was manufactured on the basis of scientific and technical knowledge at the relevant time. Whilst the UK has left the European Union, all EU directives, including obligations under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 have been transferred into UK law and are likely to remain valid for the foreseeable future.
In the case of Baker v KTM Sports Motorcycle UK Limited (2017) [Court of Appeal] the claimant was riding his motorcycle within the speed limit when suddenly and without warning the front brake of his motorcycle locked on and he was thrown from his motorcycle resulting in him sustaining severe injuries. The product liability claim was successful. His bike was less than two years old at the time of the accident, it had been serviced regularly, had low mileage and was appropriately cleaned. Brake failure occurred as a result of galvanic corrosion relating to essential braking components which had occurred as a result of a defect in the design or manufacturing process.
I have dealt with successful product liability claims over the past few years. In one case, a claimant was riding a mountain cycle when suddenly the pedal crank broke causing a laceration injury to the leg. The crank broke because the steel had been contaminated in the manufacturing process causing metal fatigue. In another claim, a claimant was using a weed killer spray and had pressurized the vessel prior to use in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The claimant was injured when the vessel tank suddenly shattered due to a defective pressure release valve which failed to activate so the tank became over pressurized. In another claim, the claimant suffered a thumb injury when washing up a cafetière in very warm water. The borosilicate glass of the cafetière suddenly shattered causing laceration injuries to the thumb. The borosilicate glass of the cafetière had not been manufactured to the necessary standard required as the glass should have been able to withstand rapid temperature changes during heating and cooling.