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Product liability recourse

When we buy a product we are often thrilled with our new purchase. After all, who doesn’t love shiny and new?

Some of us are also familiar with the great disappointment we feel if the product turns out to be broken or defective.

If you did purchase a broken or defective product, what is your recourse?

Returning the item to the store

Most stores have return and/or exchange policies. Your receipt will usually tell you what time limit you have to return or exchange an item. Often you have around 30 days to return or exchange the product but it’s really store-dependent.

Warranty from the store and/or manufacturer

Often products, especially products such as appliances or laptops come with a store and/or manufacturer’s warranty, usually with a limited amount of time, such as one year. In addition, not all parts of the product may be covered by the warranty.

You need to review your bill of sale and any additional documents that are related to the warranty to see what the terms are for the product to either be fixed or for an exchange of products to take place.

If you are covered by the warranty, then you need to follow the instructions on the warranty to get your product exchanged or refunded.

What happens if there is no warranty for the item?

Most products today have warranties. However, if this particular product doesn’t come with a warranty or the issue itself is not covered by the warranty, you could still have legal recourse.

Every province and territory has sale of goods legislation that requires that the store and manufacturer comply with certain obligations imposed upon them by the statute.

Usually the legislation of your province or territory mandates that the store sells you the product in good condition and that the product must perform the function that it claims to perform. However, sale of goods legislation can vary from province to province. You should review the legislation of your province or territory to see what warranty obligation it places on stores and manufacturers.

If the store or manufacturer still won’t comply, you could look at taking them to court. However, you should consult a lawyer to determine whether it’s a good idea to sue and your chances of succeeding with the lawsuit.

What if I sustained injuries due to a defective product?

If you have sustained injuries because of a defective product then you could sue for negligence but you would have to establish that the person or store you are suing had a legal obligation to take reasonable care and not cause harm.

There is a special duty of care that a manufacturer owes to take reasonable care and ensure that its products do not result in injury or property damage.

However, if you somehow contributed to your injuries by using the product improperly, not for the purpose it was intended or didn’t follow safety instructions, then that will be held against you.

Given how complex the law around these types of lawsuits are, if you are thinking of suing the store, manufacturer and/or another party because a defective product has caused you injury or harm, you should consult a lawyer.      

Read more:

Canadian Product Liability Handbook BLG

Product Liability in Canada