Home appliances may fail due to design flaws, manufacturing errors or the use of overly cheap materials. This can result in injuries, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe burns or even death.
If you or your child has suffered an injury due to a faulty appliance, you may have a legal right to claim financial compensation.
Types of appliances that commonly cause injuries
Household appliances that commonly cause injuries include:
- refrigerators and freezers, which can cause electric shock, as well as poisoning or even brain damage as a result of chemical leakage
- heaters, which can lead to fires, electric shock and burns and, in some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning
- stoves, toasters and kettles, which can result in electric shock and serious burns.
Who’s responsible for an appliance accident?
Prior to 2011, South African consumers had some protection under common law, which obliges manufacturers to take reasonable measures to ensure that their products are safe to use.
However, in a case where a product flaw resulted in injury, it fell to the victim to prove not just that the product caused harm, but that this harm was the direct result of a negligent act or omission on the part of the manufacturer. In practice, this could be very difficult to do.
With the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act No. 68 of 2008, which came into effect in 2011, this has changed.
The Consumer Protection Act places strict liability for product flaws and resulting injuries on product manufacturers and retailers.
What this means is that if you’re injured by a product, you simply need to prove that you did purchase the product and that harm resulted from using it. The onus to prove that the harm occurred due to specific negligence by the manufacturer has fallen away.
Your rights under the Consumer Protection Act
The Consumer Protection Act protects your right as a consumer to claim damages for injuries caused by unsafe or defective goods, including appliances.
Section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act, which applies to all goods and services in South Africa, states that producers, importers, distributors and retailers of goods are liable for any harm caused wholly or in part as a result of:
- supplying unsafe goods
- product failure, defect or hazard
- inadequate instructions or warnings about hazards associated with the use of goods.
Under the Act, suppliers are responsible for making consumers aware of product risks that might not otherwise be obvious, and for providing consumers with adequate instructions on safe product use and handling.
Claims for appliance accidents and injuries
If you’ve been injured as a result of a faulty appliance or other defective product, you can claim compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings due to your injury and pain and suffering.
To claim for an appliance-related injury, the best first step is to contact an attorney who specialises in handling product liability claims. Appliance-related injury claims can be complex, requiring in-depth knowledge of the law and expert assessment of a range of situation-specific variables.
How DSC Attorneys can help
At DSC Attorneys, our highly experienced personal injury attorneys can assess your product liability claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We work on a “no win, no fee” basis.