We currently seem to be facing a barrage of defective products in the UK with PIP implants, metal on metal hip implants and now the horsemeat debacle. A lesser talked about area with defective products at present is that one of the most common causes of fires in the home is defective electrical appliances. There are approximately 7000 house fires across the UK each year which are caused by faulty electrics which includes faulty appliances. Whilst this number includes fires arising from the misuse of electrical appliances, many are as a result of defective electrical products.
Domestic appliances including dish washers, tumble dryers, cooking appliances and washing machines are all a common source of ignition which can easily end in a fire in the home. It was not long ago that Beko fridge freezers were being recalled after at least 15 people were injured and 1 killed as a result of fires caused by the faulty models and it is important that people are aware of the potential risk with these types of product.
Fires in the home are an extremely traumatic event no matter how small. Not only do they cause significant damage to property and possessions they all too easily end in injuries and sadly sometimes death. The injuries suffered can include burns and damage to the lungs and throat. Smoke inhalation can result in the onset and worsening of asthma which in itself is a serious condition. It isn’t just physical injuries though, experiencing a fire in the home can be very distressing, especially for children, and there can be a significant psychological impact with the potential of developing a condition such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.
In such circumstances, it is possible to make a claim for compensation relying upon consumer based law and negligence. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 enables victims of injury caused by defective products to sue on the basis that the product is not fit for the purpose it was intended for. Claims are generally made against the manufacturer (or producer) of the defective product or anyone who puts their name on a product and holds themselves out as the producer of it, including distributors, suppliers and retailers. Most claims arise from a problem in the following circumstances –
- When the actual design of the product represents a hazard or danger
- When a fault or defect occurs during manufacture
- Failures to provide appropriate warnings to dangerous products or parts
- Failures to recall known defective products.
Unfortunately, fires caused by defective electrical products can be difficult to avoid as the defect is rarely known until it is too late. However, simple steps can be taken to try and reduce the risk of fire from a defective product, for example, ensuring that the correct fuse is used, not overloading extension leads or adaptors, not using products which clearly have a faulty or broken lead. Switching off electric goods and unplugging them where possible can also not only save money but minimise the fire risk as when plugged in, there could still be electricity flowing through the appliance even if turned on. When you can’t prevent the fire, you can still try to prevent serious injuries and the most important step in any home is to ensure that you have a properly working smoke alarm.
Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has been injured as a result of a defective or faulty product. Free and friendly legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit harrisfowler.co.uk
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