Maclaren pushchairs safety issue highlights lack of UK consumer awareness on rights

The duty of care owed to consumers by the manufacturers and suppliers of everyday products should always be borne in mind when injuries result from their use. Indeed, recent reports of Maclaren pushchair recalls in the US have served to highlight the potential benefits of pursuing compensation claims where the normal use of goods has caused injury. The Maclaren pushchair incident, which involves the recall of approximately one million buggies in the US following fifteen accounts of injuries to children that were reported to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), brings to light how differing standards, expectations and actions can cause discrepancies in other countries. Specifically, the Maclaren pushchair incident has shown that decisive action soon followed complaints made in the US, whereas a completely different outcome has resulted in the UK.

In fact Maclaren, which is a British based company that has produced a range of pushchairs for various international markets over a the last few decades, has chosen not to recall any buggies in the UK – despite the fact that many of the models recalled in the US are sold in large quantities throughout the UK. A statement released by Maclaren explained that the decision was based on the fact that only one report of an injury had been made to UK Trading Standards authorities and that, generally speaking, there was far less concern in the UK than in the US. However, a BBC report identified that hundreds of British parents have since come forward to detail accounts of injuries – some of which involve finger amputations – that have been inflicted upon their children through the use of Maclaren buggies.

Thus, it would appear from the ongoing Maclaren pushchair case that consumers in the UK are either less inclined to report incidents of products causing injury than those in the US or they are less aware of their legal rights on the subject. In fact, there are a number of routes that can be pursued when a product causes injury and reporting any such incident to Trading Standards is often the most useful place to start. Of course, the primary concern in the present case is whether the affected Maclaren models are indeed safe to use, so as to avoid further injury to children. However, parents must also be made aware that other legal remedies exist in addition to reporting such incidents to Government watchdogs.

In particular, the law aims to provide redress to those who suffer injuries that were caused by others. Specifically, the landmark case of Donoghue and Stevenson in 1932 introduced the elements of duty, breach and damage to the English legal system and also extended the neighbour principle, which essentially determines the extent to which the duty of care applies between two or more parties (this was further expanded in the three stage test outlined in Caparo and Dickman). Ultimately, if reasonably foreseeable harm is inflicted upon a claimant who is directly or closely affected by the defendant’s actions, compensation can be awarded assuming it is fair, just and reasonable to do so.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential that members of the public seek legal advice where products have caused physical injury through normal use (or sometimes even when misused), as not only may the law afford them compensation but the companies involved in the production of such products can take steps to avoid any further injuries. As the contrasting response to the Maclaren incidents in the US and UK have highlighted, saying nothing results in nothing. Claim today!

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