The Legal Principles of Negligence Law
Discuss About The Consumer Protection And Auction Platforms.
Under negligence law, a person is obligated to exercise duty of care towards another person and is responsible for undertaking reasonable measures to avoid the risks that are likely to arise from any act or omission of the person and result in nursing injury to the aggrieved person. The injury caused to the aggrieved party must be reasonably foreseeable and must be a direct outcome of the act or omission of the party causing such injury (Abraham, 2017). Therefore, in order to be successful in bringing negligence claims, the aggrieved party must establish the following conditions:
- a duty of care relationship exist between the plaintiff and the defendant;
- there is a breach of such duty of care by the defendant;
- the injury or damages sustained was a direct outcome of the breach of duty;
Duty of care- The Wrongs Act 1958 governs the law of negligence and entails the legal principles of duty of care. The person who owes a duty of care is deemed to exercise reasonable standard of care towards the plaintiff to the extent that any act or omission on part of the defendant is likely to cause injury to the defendant. In Donoghue v Stevenson  A.C. 562, the ‘neighbor principle’ was introduced which stipulates that one must exercise care towards his neighbor. ‘Neighbor’ is any person who is likely to be affected either directly or closely by the act or omission of the defendant.
Breach of duty of care- To establish that a person has breached a duty of care, the court shall determine whether the defendant has maintained a reasonable standard of care while conducting or omitting to conduct any activity. The court shall further determine whether the reasonable care exercised is similar to the standard of care that would be exercised by any prudent person in the same situation. If the court deems that the risk caused by the act or omission of the defendant is high, it is expected that the defendant exercise additional measures to avoid the occurrence of the risks.
Under certain exceptional circumstances, the facts of the case itself are evident that the defendant had been negligent in his action or omission causing injury to the plaintiff. This is known as the principle of res ipsa loquitor, which implies that the facts of a case itself speak for themselves.
Breach of duty of care caused damages- the plaintiff must establish that the damages or injuries caused to the plaintiff was a direct result of the breach of the duty of care caused by the defendant. The plaintiff must further establish the ‘but for’ test that is, the plaintiff would not have sustained such injuries or damages but for the breach of duty of care by the defendant the plaintiff suffered loss or sustained injuries (Luntz et al., 2017).
Role of Manufacturers in Duty of Care
Causation- Furthermore, the plaintiff must establish that the injuries caused is a direct outcome of the action or omission on the part of the defendant and is an immediate outcome and not a remote cause (Baker, 2016). As per section 51 of the Wrongs Act 1958, negligence is a factual causation of harm and requires the plaintiff must establish every fact that have attributed to the causation of issue. Further, the plaintiff must establish that the injury sustained or the damage suffered was unexpected and that the plaintiff had no knowledge about it.
Nevertheless, the plaintiff cannot claim damages for any injury or loss that has resulted from any inherent risk. An inherent risk cannot be avoided despite exercising a reasonable standard of care. While determining the significance of an injury, the court shall consider the extent of harm that is caused to the aggrieved person due to the injury resulting from the breach of duty of care. Subsequent to the assessment of the injury, the extent of harm caused must meet the threshold level that is fixed in case of a significant injury.
In case of Thermomix appliance, the kitchen model has caused injuries to its owners who suffered burn injuries due to defect in the kitchen appliance and lack of safety. In Donoghue’s case, it was established that manufacturers have a duty of care towards their consumers or users of the product. This principle has evolved into a legal principle that safeguards consumers against injury or loss suffered due to contaminated or faulty commodities.
As per the negligence law, the Thermomix Appliances owed a duty of care towards the customers and it is their responsibility to ensure that that the products are safe for its use. management, in this case, the company has failed to exercise reasonable standard of care to ensure that the products are safe. The reasonable standard of care expected to be maintained in this case is that it is obvious that the manufacturer will provide goods without fault and that which is safe. Any prudent person would have ensured the reasonable standard of care in the same situation.
The liability of the company may arise, as the burn injuries sustained by its consumers are a direct result of the breach of the company to exercise care in ensuring that the products sold are safe and free of defects. Further, the injuries suffered are immediate outcome of the breach of duty of care and not remote. This establishes all the essential elements that are required to prove negligence claims. The consumers are entitled to claim damages for the personal injury sustained due to the negligence of the company.
The Liability of Companies
Under the Wrongs Act 1958, an aggrieved person is not entitled to make non-monetary claims, which implies that the consumers cannot make claims for the injuries sustained unless the burn injury is above 5 percent as set out in the Medical Association Guidelines (AMA). The amendment made in the Wrongs Act 1958 with respect to the non-monetary claims is only applicable when the injuries sustained are severe. The aggrieved parties are entitled to make any claims within 3 years from the date of injury sustained and the necessary documents must be filed within 90 days prior to the expiry of the particular period (Foley & Christensen, 2016).
The Wrongs Act 1958 has set out several limitations with respect to the compensation for the economic and non-economic loss resulting from the personal injury sustained by the aggrieved party. The Australian Law Reform Commission has introduced caps applicable on non-economic damages to ensure equal importance to the privacy interest and status of both the wrongdoer and aggrieved party.
The damages acts as a deterrent factor for the wrongdoer as it is a form of punishment for the wrongdoer preventing him from conducting further breach of his duty of care (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2017). Nevertheless, the thresholds that have been stipulated in the statute have reduced the possibility of liability in law of torts in the following ways:
- the threshold reduces the incorporation of the risk management measures;
- the eligibility of the wrongdoer to compensate the injured party reduces;
- the threshold establishes that certain negligent acts excludes the infringing party from facing any financial consequences;
Nevertheless, there are arguments made in favor of the thresholds that have been imposed to compensate for the non-economic damages or losses sustained and suffered by the injured party. Firstly, such thresholds awarded to the injured party are made under circumstances where the aggrieved party establishes that they have satisfied the threshold imposed for obtaining the concerned compensation. For instance, the aggrieved parties who have suffered 30 percent injuries are only entitled to monetary compensation.
Secondly, the imposition of thresholds have lessen the likeliness of making any false claims like irrelevant and necessary expenses related to the injury suffered by the aggrieved party (Goldberg, Sebok & Zipursky, 2016). Lastly, the aggrieved parties are only entitled to monetary damages for personal injuries that have been sustained based on the level of harm that the aggrieved person has sustained due to the act or omission of the wrongdoer.
The damages to which any aggrieved person is entitled under the negligence law, is made to compensate the aggrieved person for all losses suffered and the injuries sustained due to the act or omission of the wrongdoer. After perusing the evidences adduced, the court shall award damages in the form of compensation with the objective to restore the plaintiff to the position he or she was before the causing of injuries from the action or omission of the defendant (Stickley, 2016).
The Role of Caps in Restricting Liability under Tort Law
The harm or damage suffered by the aggrieved party includes temporary or permanent physical injury or non-monetary loss. The non-monetary losses suffered by the claimant may arise as physical injury that includes physical sufferings, loss of life, emotional trauma, loss of amenities and disfigurement. The damages that the aggrieved party is entitled to for the non-economic losses are known as general damages. Although the emotional trauma and physical injuries cannot be compensated money but the sole reason behind compensating the claimant is to assist the aggrieved person to obtain any alternative source of satisfaction and pay for the expenditures (Stickley, 2017).
The legal and statutory framework of several states has enforced number of limitations in terms of the damages that are claimed for sustaining the personal injuries. Although several states in Australia have stipulated caps on non-economic losses arising in medical arises, but less states have introduced caps on non-pecuniary damages in terms of cases that are related to personal injuries (Mendelson, 2014). The amount of caps or limitations is different in all the states, which varies from $350,000 to $750,000.
Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions that are available to the laws related to death or injuries where a higher damage cap is permitted or the damage cap is completely eliminated. In Victoria, the aggrieved person may be entitled to compensation for sustaining non-pecuniary injuries if the person establishes that almost 30 percent of the injury sustained is of serious nature. The damage cap for non-pecuniary loss in the state of Victoria is $527,610.
Under Part 3-5 of the Australian Consumer Law, provisions have been stipulated that deals with the liability of the manufacturer with respect to any safety defects associated with the products. The liability of the manufacturer also rises with respect to the monetary loss or any personal damage that is suffered by the customers while using the commodities supplied by such manufacturer (Fries, Bergmeister & Spindler, 2018).
As per section  of the ACL, any individual consumer who has suffered any personal injury or damage due to the defect in the products supplied by the manufacturer is entitled to bring legal claims against the manufacturer for compensation. In case the aggrieved persons are unable to identify the actual manufacturer, they may request the suppliers to provide assistance in identifying the manufacturer for initiating legal proceedings against the manufacturer of faulty goods. In the event, the suppliers fail to provide necessary information regarding the manufacturer; the aggrieved party may become entitled to obtain compensation from the suppliers for failing to provide information about the manufacturer of the defective goods (Latimer, 2018).
As per the facts of the Thermomix appliances, the aggrieved customers are entitled to bring legal proceedings against the manufacturer for the lack of safety defects in its kitchen appliance model that caused burning injuries to its consumers. The consumers are entitled to compensation for such personal injuries.
However, the manufacturers are entitled to certain defenses as stipulated under sections  and  of the ACL. The following defenses are available to the manufacturers under the ACL.
- Firstly, the manufacturer may contend that the defect in the goods did not exist while the goods were supplied to the consumers;
- Secondly, the manufacturer was not allowed by the scientific and technical department to check the default in the goods;
- Thirdly, the loss suffered due to a damage caused to a land or a building;
- Lastly, the defect in the goods resulted due to a conformity with a compulsory standard related to a product.
Further, if a commonwealth mandatory standard is associated with the alleged defective products, the manufacturer shall not be responsible for the defective goods instead; the Commonwealth shall be liable for the loss suffered by the aggrieved person due to such defect in the good. However, under Part 3-5 of the ACL does not stipulate any remedies and penalties for the breach of the safety of the products as these provisions are used to assist the court to determine breach of products and liabilities of the manufacturers or suppliers (Howells & Weatherill, 2017). Nevertheless, under Part 4 of the Australian Consumer Law states that violation of particular legal provisions often lead to severe injuries and are deemed as criminal offenses which is subjected to penalty.
As per the reports, complaints with respect to the damages and personal injuries that are caused to the consumers of the products, which implies that the Thermomix Company have failed to act in accordance to the provisions set out regarding the recall of the goods supplied to the consumers which make it liable to pay fine of $1.1 million.
Furthermore, the consumers that have suffered serious injuries with respect to the defected goods supplied by the company, becomes entitled to make monetary compensation up to $16,650 from the Thermomix appliances company. According to Part 4-6 of the ACL, defenses are set out that may be argued by the Thermomix company to exempt from the liabilities.
- Firstly, the injuries sustained by the consumers have resulted from act of third parties and that the company had undertaken reasonable measures to avert such injury.
- Secondly, the defendant may state that the causation of the injury resulted from rational factual mistakes.
Moreover, under Part 5 of the ACL deals with the civil monetary penalties that is imposed upon the wrongdoer by the court. Such civil monetary penalties are only applicable to the wrongdoer provided such infringer, be it individual or a corporate body, has contravened the legal provisions related to civil standard of the manufactured goods. The Thermomix Company failed to act in accordance to the legal provisions with respect to the safety standard of the kitchen appliances under section [106(1)] of the ACL and was entitled to pay $1.1 million. In case the aggrieved consumers have sustained serious injuries, the company shall be entitled to pay $16,500 under section  or section  of the ACL as compensation to the aggrieved persons.
The other remedy that is available to the aggrieved consumers is set out under section  of the ACL. In the case of Thermomix Company, as per the legal provision, the aggrieved consumers may obtain injunction orders from the court against the company for infringing the safety standard provision and causing severe injuries to the consumers. This remedy is an additional remedy apart from the compensation that they are entitled to under section  of the ACL for all the injuries and damages suffered. Moreover, if a manufacturer or supplier has contravened any consumer guarantee, the aggrieved consumer may bring a legal action against such manufacturer within a period of three years from the date of violation of the consumer guarantee (Riefa, 2016).
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