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Award of €20,000 granted to 6 year old boy following laptop explosion

Commenting on a recent case before his court, the Judge in the matter of a six year old boy being injured following a laptop explosion stated:

“You have put the heart cross-ways in me. That’s scary. You’re telling me that none of us are safe leaving out laptops plugged in overnight.”

The plaintiff who is now ten years old, sued the manufacturers of the laptop through his mother, for up to €60,000 damages for psychological and physical injuries which were sustained a result of the explosion which occurred at their home in October 2013.

The barrister for the plaintiff told the Circuit Civil Court that the plaintiff was using the laptop on the dining room table when it exploded and went on fire. The injuries sustained were mainly of a psychological nature. ‘The laptop was thrown out onto the patio, where it continued to burn.’ The plaintiff suffered a shooting pain going up his arm and in the aftermath became extremely anxious of any electrical appliances. Four days after the incident, the plaintiff was referred for an ECG, but this did not show up any major abnormalities.

The following month (November 2013) the plaintiff was reviewed, and it was deemed that he had suffered post traumatic stress following on from the event. His anxiety was to such an extent that he had to insist on all electronic appliances being unplugged at night and became increasingly fretful about the safety of the lights around the Christmas tree.

In an affidavit from the mother of the plaintiff, it was stated that apart from some minor post trauma stress and nervousness of electrical appliances, the child was now participating again in all the usual childhood activities.

A settlement offer was made by the laptop manufacturer to the plaintiff in the amount of €20,000 and his barrister was recommending that this be accepted by the court. The judge in the matter felt the child had become more easily startled after the incident, and felt that the settlement offer made was good in the circumstances and approved it along with costs.

In the instance where a product is defective, the consumer is predominantly protected by The Liability for Defective Products Act, 1991. The consumer is protected in the instance that the product does not reach a sufficient safety level and causes foreseeable damage or injury. The consumer can rely on proof that the product was defective as opposed to having to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer.  These product liability regulations cover product liability compensation claims in the cases of design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects.


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