Our client, Ms B, purchased some self-assembly chairs online from Made.com that arrived in December 2014. The chairs have 2 sets of legs that fixed to the base of the chair by 5 screws. Ms B assembled the chairs by herself, following the assembly instructions provided.
Then on 10 July 2015 she was sitting on one of the chairs when she pushed the chair backwards away from a table so she could stand up. The chair legs collapsed and she fell to the floor. The legs of the chair had completely detached from the chair after the fall.
Ms B was registered as disabled prior to this accident and she suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis, lumbar/sacral spinal and bilateral hip osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, a right trochanteric lesion. She was also suffering from a meniscus tear of the right knee.
How We Helped
Neil instructed an expert engineer to assess the structural integrity of the chairs. The engineer provided an opinion stating that the metal fastenings fitted to the base of the chair were too shallow to engage sufficiently with the self-tapping screws that attached through the metal legs. This meant that they provided minimal resistance to detachment.
Neil also arranged for medical assessments to be carried out, to assess the extent of the injuries that had been caused to Ms B as a result of the accident. Upon obtaining medical evidence from an Orthopaedic Consultant, it was confirmed that the client suffered an exacerbation of degenerative symptoms in her right knee for a period of 3-6 months.
Liability was originally denied by the chair manufacturer's insurers. Neil was conscious that he needed to issue protective proceedings prior to the 3 year limitation period, after which time the client would have no longer been eligible to make a claim.
Proceedings were issued within this timeframe but the Defendant then failed to provide a defence within the prescribed time limits. As such, default judgment was obtained and the case was proceeding towards a disposal hearing at Court.
Neil used this situation to exert pressure on the insurers and, as a result, obtained a favourable out of Court settlement for Ms B. The defendant's insurers offered a settlement in the sum of £10,000, which included limited special damages. This offer was accepted by Ms B, who was pleased with the outcome.
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