If due to a product defect a person is injured or killed, or if any tangible property other than the product is damaged, then the manufacturer, retailer or wholesaler can be held liable. DLA Piper is here to help. Our Austrian product liability lawyers have in-depth experience representing clients in this area of law.
The Austrian Product Liability Act (PLA) covers injuries and property damages caused by defects that a product already had when it was placed on the market.
For the purpose of the PLA, the term "product" means any movable tangible property, even if it is part of another movable property or combined with an immovable property, including energy. A product is deemed defective if it does not provide the safety which may be reasonably expected, in particular with respect to the presentation of the product, the use to which it can reasonably be expected that the product would be put and the time when the product was put into circulation.
A producer's liability arising from the PLA cannot be limited or excluded towards consumers and is a strict liability.
The PLA provisions are not applicable in the course of business-to-business transactions, if the damage on the movable tangible property occurs within a company that has predominantly used the defective product. However, personal injuries are never excluded.
In principle, the obligation of compensation applies to the producer, which means the manufacturer of a finished product. "Producer" in the meaning of the PLA also includes any person who imports a product into the European Union for sale, hire, leasing or any form of distribution in the course of his business. If the producer cannot be identified, each supplier of the product shall be treated as its producer unless he informs the injured person within a reasonable time (one to two weeks) about the identity of the producer or his supplier. A product is deemed to be marketed as soon as the manufacturer / importer has brought it out of its authority. A remuneration is not required.
Compensation for personal injuries includes, among others, costs of medical treatment and loss of income. Furthermore, damages can be awarded for suffering due to the loss of a close relative. Damages to property are only recoverable under limited circumstances. Not only individual contract partners but also innocent bystanders are covered by the protection.
Claims for damages arising from the Product Liability Act shall be subject to a limitation period of three years after knowledge of damage and damaging party, and, in any event, after ten years from the placing on the market of the product causing the injury.
Under the PLA, the following defences are available:
We offer full-service legal support on product liability compliance and defense through our team of dispute resolution and regulatory lawyers, many of them ex-regulators, who are well equipped to negotiate and work with local regulators and law enforcement agencies to get the most strategic outcome for our clients. Our regulatory lawyers have deep experience advising on the requirements of national and regional regulatory authorities, including the implementation of directives in local markets and ensuring compliance in multi-market and multi-product operations. We formulate compliance solutions that can satisfy the most demanding requirements and cover the widest range of risks, while still promoting consistency across all business activities and geographic regions.