If you have been injured or suffered damage due to a product that you have used you may be entitled to a defective product liability claim. In evaluating as to whether you have a valid defective products liability claim and in preparation of your Case, it is helpful to be familiar with the requirements of the law so that you are successful in your application.
A consumer has a prima facie claim under the Defective Products Law if it can be proven that the product was defective on purchase and caused the stated damages. The full definitions of 'damage' and of a 'defective product' are provided in the Defective Products Law.
The Safety Law obliges producers to only place products on the market which under normal conditions of use do not contain any danger for the health and safety of consumers. Breach of this obligation is a criminal offence. A producer or a distributor/supplier who is found guilty for breach of his statutory obligations under this Law may be imprisoned for a period of upto two years or be fined not exceeding the sum of €8,543.94 (euros), or both.
The burden of proof in a product liability claim rests with the person claiming to be injured. It has to be proved that the damage suffered based on a balance of probabilities was caused by the defendant’s defective product.
In claims for Breach of Contract, the injured party must prove, (centred on a balance of probabilities), that the alleged breach (i.e. the supply of a defective product in violation of the express or implied terms of the Contract) caused the damage suffered.
In negligence cases, causation is generally proven by the claimant on a balance of probabilities that the damage suffered would not have occurred if not caused by the defendant’s negligence. The damage suffered must be reasonably foreseeable and not a remote incident.
Under the Defective Products Law, it is sufficient to show that the damage suffered was caused entirely or partly by the defective product.
It is a defense for a manufacturer to prove:
- That he did not manufacture the product for sale or distribution for economic purposes nor was the product distributed in the course of the manufacturers business.
- That the product was not put into circulation by the manufacturer.
- That the component manufactured by a producer of part of a design was not the cause of the defect, which was in fact caused by the overall design.
- That the defect is caused by compliance with regulatory provisions.
- That the defect came into existence after being put into circulation.
- That according to the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time of circulation of the product no defect would have been discovered.
The burden of proof in these kinds of defenses rests with the manufacturer.
Class actions/group actions are common in product liability claims when there is more than one person affected by the defective products. The Civil Procedure Rules in Cyprus permits, with the Court’s assent, a group action to be held. Before the Court grants the relevant authorisation, a Power of Attorney is signed by the persons to be represented and certified by the Registrar or Certifying Officer empowering the person or persons who are to sue or be sued on their behalf to represent them in the cause or matter specified must also be lodged alongside the main action.
The Defective Product Caused Your Injury
It is not enough to argue that you were injured while using the defective product. You must explicitly demonstrate that your injury was caused by the defective product. You need to be aware however that you must have been using the product in a manner that the manufacturer intended consumers to have it used.
For example, if you use your new microwave to dry your cat (as happened in the United States in which the consumer was suing the microwave manufacturer with the reason that the instruction manual did not make a reference to animals not being allowed in the microwave) and it explodes, you may not be entitled to a claim. If an ordinary consumer would not use the product for this type of purpose then the manufacturer is not obligated to make special reference of this in the instruction manual.
However, this does not signify that the manner in which you were using the product at the time of injury must conform exactly to the manufacturer's specifications. If a manufacturer could reasonably expect an ordinary consumer to use the product in the manner in which you had used it, you could probably meet the requirement.
For example, if you purchased a chainsaw that is marketed by the manufacturer as ‘the ultimate tool for cutting hedges’ and while using it in your garden the chain snaps off and hits your eye and blinds you, you are likely to have a valid claim even if you had not been actually cutting the hedge when you were injured.
A claim must be brought within 3 years of the date that the claimant was aware (or ought to have reasonably known) that the damage had occurred.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on your specific circumstances. For further information, please contact Mr Savvas Savvides.