Unsafe Products and Warranties
Natalie Fraser for The Lawyers Weekly
Most people in Canada have experienced the frustration of discovering they have purchased an unsafe or defective product. Discussing the problem with the salesperson who sold the product or the business from which the product was purchased can often resolve the issue without involving a Canadian consumer lawyer. If the problem remains unresolved, complaining to the customer service department of the company that produced the product may achieve a more satisfactory result. Asking for assistance from the Canadian consumer organizations in the province in which the product was purchased may also help to resolve the problem.
Taking Legal Action
In Canada, the next step involves taking legal action, particularly if the unsafe or defective product has caused an injury. Bringing a lawsuit against the company that produced the product may bring financial compensation. Generally Canadian courts award money to compensate an injured party if the court agrees that the company negligently sold a defective product that caused the injury.
Canadian small claims court can resolve disputes for smaller consumer law claims. Limits for claims range from several thousand dollars to over twenty thousand dollars, depending on the laws of the Canadian province or territory. Expenses may include fees for filing the claim, serving orders, paying witnesses and travel expenses. Small claims court in Canada allows for self-representation, although a consumer lawyer may assist in most Canadian provinces. For lawsuits involving larger amounts, consulting a Canadian consumer lawyer becomes necessary.
When a large group of people in Canada have suffered injuries or losses from an unsafe or defective product, they should consider a class action. Canadian consumers who cannot afford to sue on their own can band together with others in a similar position to launch an action against the same defendant. Often the Internet can assist Canadian consumers to find others who have been injured by the same product. If they agree to bring a class action, they will share both the expenses of hiring a Canadian consumer lawyer and the rewards of the lawsuit. Each Canadian province has different rules regarding class action lawsuits and a Canadian consumer lawyer could assist with understanding these rules.
Legislation and Warranties
Consumer Legislation such as the Hazardous Products Act, enacted by the federal government, may apply to the defective product. This Act creates standards of safety that apply across Canada for many consumer products such as child restraint systems and hockey helmets. The Food and Drugs Act regulates the sale of food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices in Canada in order to set standards of safety for these consumer products.
Many products come with warranties from the manufacturer, guaranteeing some aspect of the product. As well, several provinces in Canada have legislation stating that every sales contract includes an implied warranty. For example, in Saskatchewan, the Consumer Protection Act deems retailers to give minimum warranties whenever they sell a product. The implied warranty guarantees the product is of acceptable quality, reasonably durable, and fit for the use intended. The consumer affairs office in the Canadian province where the sales contract was made can advise as to whether implied warranties apply in that province.
In Canada, bringing a legal action backed up by legislation and a warranty, implied or otherwise, increases the chance of the courts awarding financial compensation to those who have suffered loss or injury due to an unsafe or defective product.
Natalie Fraser practised law in Whitby, Ontario for seventeen years and is now a freelance legal writer. She often writes for The Lawyers Weekly.
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