If an item that you have purchased has caused damage to you or your property and you were not responsible for the damage, then you might be able to make a claim for compensation. If the damage was to property then you can “claim damages“, whereas if the product caused you to be injured then you may be able to make a “personal injury claim“. Although you may be able to claim for this on your home insurance policy, making a claim can cause your insurance payments to increase. On the other hand, making a claim via your own insurance provider can be much quicker and easier.
How much are you owed?
Before you try to make a claim for compensation, you will need to work out how much you are owed. In order to do this, you will need to think about how much you have spent on rectifying the problem, or how much time you expect that you will have to spend work to fix it. If you have had to do any of the work yourself, you should factor in how much time you personally spent dealing with the issue and how much this time was worth.
If you have not previously received a refund or a replacement for the item which caused the damages, you can also seek compensation for the cost of the product. These values should form the basic backbone of your claim.
How to make a claim
You will need to build a body of evidence to support your claim. Take photos of the damage or injury so that you are able to show the defendant what you are claiming for. Make a written log of what went wrong, when it happened, what you were doing at the time and then what you had to do to fix the problem.
The action that you will need to take will depend on whether you purchased the item or acquired it through other means (i.e. gifted). If you bought the item, you should first try to seek compensation from the place where you bought it from. Write to them or speak to them to advise that you are legally entitled to compensation for damages caused by the faulty item. Send copies of the evidence that you have, but keep the originals in case you need them again.
The rules are slightly different if you did not purchase the item. You may attempt to seek compensation if all of the following apply; the claim is worth more than £275, the product which caused the damage was not safe to use, and the damage was to personal property (i.e. not owned by a business). Because you did not purchase the product which caused the damages, you will not be able to seek damages for the cost of the item. Your write to seek damages to personal property is protected by the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
If your claim is for a value of less than £275, you may be able to make a claim against the manufacturer for negligence. In this case, you may be asked to provide proof that negligence caused the damages; however, many manufacturers will be responsive when you explain the situation to them.
If the trader or manufacturer is unresponsive or unwilling to give you compensation, you may be able to try speaking to a trade association that they are a member of. Trade Associations can help to work between the consumer and the seller/manufacturer. Other types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (such as mediation) can also be helpful in this type of situation.