White goods, the name given to large domestic appliances, are an integral part of our homes and everyday lives. When you purchase goods from leading manufacturers, who are usually household names, you expect these goods to be safe.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case and there have been numerous reports in the press about unsafe appliances being supplied by large manufacturers, namely Whirlpool, which offer products under brand names that include Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan, and Proline.
In the case of Whirlpool, it was found that their faulty white goods were causing fires, with models manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 linked to a spate of fires in home, with one such incident involving a Whirlpool tumble dryer rendering a significant section of an 18-storey block of flats uninhabitable.
Whirlpool did not issue a product recall in the aftermath of these reports, but they did advise that consumers with an affected appliance request a repair to their white goods from a recommended engineer; in the meantime consumers were told to avoid leaving the appliance unattended when in use. Some consumer groups did, however, advise those with a faulty model not to use the product at all, until the modification has been carried out.
If you’re concerned that your Whirlpool appliance may be affected by this dangerous fault, you can check affected models by visiting the Hotpoint or Indesit model checkers.
The case of Whirlpool appliances causing house fires is just one example of how unsafe or faulty white goods can cause serious injury, or significant damage to property. More common defects include washing machines causing damage to clothes, which have to be replaced at the expense of the owner, or faulty refrigerators causing food to spoil, which could lead to an outbreak of food poisoning.
If you’ve used an unsafe or faulty product that has caused injury, illness, or financial loss through damaged property, you have a right to make a compensation claim. Our team of Personal Injury solicitors are specialists in product liability claims and can help establish whether you have a claim against the manufacturer of your faulty white goods.
Consumer Rights For Faulty White Goods
In instances of consumers purchasing a faulty or defective product, the Consumers Right Act 2015 provides a right to a refund – among other shopping rights – however the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is the legislation that establishes your right to claim compensation if a defective product causes death, damage, or injury.
If you have been injured as a direct result of a faulty product, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 allows you to recover compensation for the pain, suffering, and financial losses sustained as a consequence of:
- Defectively manufactured products
- Defectively designed products
- A failure to provide you with adequate warnings or instructions about a product
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 includes a strict liability test, which automatically makes the producer of a dangerously unsafe product liable for any damage this product causes.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, 'any damage' caused by a defective product can be recovered via a compensation claim. This means that anybody that is injured, or suffers any kind of loss, by a defective product can make a claim; compensation is not restricted to the person who purchased the product.
It is important to note that there are some instances where consumers are unable to claim for compensation under the Consumer Protection Act, for example:
- A claim cannot be made for loss or damage to the faulty product itself
- Damages cannot be recovered for business products that are not designed for private use
- Any damages to a property with a value below £275 cannot be claimed
Who Can You Claim Against?
Actually establishing liability is one of the most difficult parts of liability law, with multiple parties all having a responsibility to ensure that any products that are sold to the public are safe and fit for purpose.
If you have been injured, or suffered a financial loss, because of a defective product you may be able to make a claim against:
- The manufacturer – the company responsible for creating the product
- The supplier – the company that actually sold the product to you
- The importer – the company responsible for importing the product to the UK
- The brand holder – the company that puts their name to the product
Being Injured By A Defective Product
If you are injured by faulty or unsafe white goods, or a faulty appliance causes damage to your property, you should ensure that you follow these steps:
- Seek medical attention
- Keep the receipt for the item, along with any other documentation you received with the appliance
- Keep the product and packaging (if you still have it) and take photographs of the appliance
- Take photographs of your injury and any other damage caused
- If you contact the manufacturer or retailer keep a record of who you speak to and what they say
- Keep a list of all expenses you incur
- Contact us, so that we can assist you and guide you through the process of bringing a claim
How Much Compensation Can Be Claimed For Faulty White Goods?
Compensation claims are broken down into two parts:
- Damages for personal injury, pain, suffering and loss of amenity
- Damages for financial losses sustained as a consequence of the accident, for example loss of earnings, travel expenses, or the cost of medication
Each case is valued on an individual basis and we always await a report from an independent medical expert before considering claim values, as this report allows us to understand the extent of your injuries and their effect on an individual.
When considering the value of a compensation claim, a judge might refer the guidelines published by the Judicial College (JC). These guidelines give us a general figure for general damages when we make a civil claim. It is important to remember that these guidelines are non-specific, meaning that actual claim settlements could be a lot lower than these guidelines once the details of an individual case have been considered.
It is important to remember that compensation claims can be filed against the manufacturer of faulty white goods even when an injury is not sustained; a claim can be made to recover the damages to property, which is more likely to occur than an injury in the instance of faulty white goods.
Whether you are claiming for a personal injury, or for damaged property, you have three years from the date of your injury, or from the date that you became aware of your injury, to make a claim. This three-year deadline also applies to compensation claims for financial loss, with claimants having three years from the date the damage was done to pursue compensation.
Due to the complex nature of liability claims, such as those arising from faulty white goods, it is advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible after damage arises.
The experts in Simpson Millar's Personal Injury department have experience of seeking justice for claimants after faulty goods causes harm and understand that more than injuries suffered, the emotional and distressing nature of damage to the family home must be taken into account in the aftermath of a faulty white good causing damage.
We can help you gather evidence, make a case, and ultimately repair the damage caused faulty white goods, so that you can put your life back on track and leave the distressing situation behind you.
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