Claim compensation if an item or product causes damage
If an item causes damage to your property through no fault of your own, you may have a legal right to claim compensation (also known as claiming ‘damages’).
For example, you may be able to claim compensation if your washing machine starts leaking and damages your kitchen floor.
If an item or product has given you an injury you’ll have to make a personal injury claim.
If you have insurance that covers the problem, you could make a claim on your insurance policy. This could be quicker and easier, but it could mean the amount you pay for your insurance will go up.
Your consumer rights might have changed
The UK has left the EU. Your consumer rights might have changed if you buy online from a company based in the EU.
Work out how much compensation you want
You'll need to work out a fair amount of compensation to ask for. You should consider:
- how much money you’ve spent fixing the problems, or how much it will cost to fix
- how much time you’ve spent and what your time is worth
How to claim compensation
It’s a good idea to take photos of any damage caused so you can use them as evidence. You should also make note of dates and times when things went wrong.
The action you should take depends on whether or not you bought the item that caused the damage.
If you bought the item that caused the damage
You should first try to claim compensation from the company you bought the item from. Call or write to them and explain your situation.
What to write or say:
“The law says I’m entitled to be paid damages when a faulty item causes damage.”
You can include the cost of the faulty item in your claim for damages, but not if you’ve already had a refund or been given a replacement.
If you write, include copies of photos or any other proof you have of the damage. It’s a good idea to keep the originals in case you need them later. You can send the letter by registered post so you have proof that it was received.
If you didn’t buy the item that caused the damage
You have the legal right to get compensation from the manufacturer (ie the company that made the product) if all of the following apply:
- you’re claiming for more than £275
- the item that caused the damage was unsafe
- the damage wasn’t done to something owned by a business
You can’t claim the cost of the faulty item - only the cost of the damage and distress.
Call or write to them and explain your situation.
What to write or say
“The product has damaged my personal property, therefore I’m legally entitled to damages under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.”
If your claim is for less than £275
You can make a claim for ‘negligence’ against either the manufacturer or the company you bought the item from. You may have to prove that they were negligent, but it’s worth calling or writing to them first to explain your situation.
What to write or say
“The product has damaged my personal property, therefore I believe I’m legally entitled to damages for negligence.”
If you still haven't solved your problem
There are other steps you can take to solve your problem - these include using ‘alternative dispute resolution’, which is a way of solving disagreements without going to court.
Contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's consumer service if you need more help.
Advice Direct Scotland's Consumer Service
Freephone: 0808 164 6000