Defective or dangerous products are the cause of many injuries each year in Ireland.* The law requires that a product meets a requisite safety standard, and you are entitled to expect, taking all circumstances into account, that a product meets that standard. The law surrounding the area of liability for defective products is provided for in statute under the Liability for Defective Products Act 1991 (1991 Act). The producer of a defective product can be held liable for personal injuries which is caused by a defect in the product. However, the onus is on the injured party to prove the case and to prove that an injury was caused due to a fault in the product.
What is a product defect?
- Manufacturing defects
- Poor or inadequate product design
- Inaccurate product descriptions or marketing defects.
This is as a result of an error or dangerous aspect occurring during the manufacturing process of a product. Using defective materials for example in the manufacturing process may cause faulty products. Some examples of dangerous manufacturing defects include;
- A bicycle manufactured with defective tyres
- A straightener or curling iron with exposed wires or faulty power cable which could cause electrocution
- Dangerous pharmaceuticals like cough syrups which contain toxic substances
- Defective lids on harmful liquids or medicines.
- Food poisoning or illness caused by contaminated food or alcoholic beverages.
Poor or inadequate design
There is a difference between products which have been manufactured defectively and designed defectively. In the case of inadequate design, the way a product is made may make it dangerous to use. This includes products which may have been either designed poorly or have not gone through an adequate testing process before being released onto the market.
Some examples of poor design include;
- Children’s toys which have caused injury due to dangerous sharp edges or parts too small for the advertised age group.
- Reactions to beauty products due to toxic ingredients.
- Injuries caused by motorbike or car design defects.
Inaccurate product descriptions or marketing defects
One of the most common causes for injury in Ireland, this is a situation where there is a failure to make people aware of any known hazards or dangers associated with the product. This is usually communicated to the consumer by way of warning labels and/or clear instructions to consumers on how to use a product.
Examples of inaccurate product descriptions or marketing defects can include;
- Lack of warning of product flammability e.g. clothing which is made of highly flammable material is not adequately highlighted.
- Food labels which are misleading or do not give accurate allergen information.
- Misleading advertising claims which have caused harm to the consumer.
What to do if you have been injured by a defective product
- In the event that you have suffered an injury as a direct result of a defective product, you should firstly seek medical attention to attend to your injuries.
- Take pictures of the product and any injuries sustained, if possible. In the case of inaccurate product descriptions, be sure to take pictures of the product labels or marketing materials. If you bought the product online, it is also advisable to take screen shots of the product listing page on the website where it was purchased.
- It is important to preserve the defective product (where possible) as an engineer may have to carry out an inspection of same.
- Lastly, contact an experienced personal injury solicitor to seek guidance and legal advice.