Group compensation on the rise
With news this week that over two thousand people who purchased sofas that ended up severely burning them, may well be soon receiving substantial compensation settlements, the idea of group compensation looms large in people's minds.
What is group compensation?
Group compensation, which is also known as a multi-party claim or a class action lawsuit is a type of compensation claim that is undertaken on behalf of at least two plaintiff's who were injured by the same defendant.
In recent years there have been a number of high-profile cases in addition to the sofa injury suit. Another action that is currently winding its way through the US court system involves the drug Paxil, which the defendants claim had been manufactured in a faulty manner.
Sofa burn compensation near to completion
The so-called “toxic sofa” complaints arose after two different models of sofa that were sold by over a dozen retailers turned out to still contain residue of a chemical that was used to stop mould developing during transit.
Over 1600 people suffered with severe burns and rashes after sitting on the faulty furniture that had traces of dimethyl-fumarate, commonly known as DMF. Some of the injuries caused were so severe that many people spent weeks recovering.
"It was very, very painful - I couldn't sleep at night, I couldn't walk about, I couldn't drive, the fact that every time I did walk about the skin would fall off and I would leave a trail of it - therefore I couldn't go to work." Said one female victim.
Among the stores who are involved in the sale of the faulty sofas, Argos and Walmsley's have both accepted that the injuries were caused by the sofa's. A spokesman for Argos has said that they hope to compensate victims as quickly as possible, while making clear that they had discontinued selling the faulty goods.
Injury lawyers representing the injured parties said that there may be even more people injured by the sofas who haven't made the connection between their injuries and their new sofa.
"We advertised in eight national newspapers last October, and purely from those we got another 3,500 people coming forward. I think potentially there are tens of thousands more people out there who might be affected - potentially people are still suffering and don't know what the problem is." Said lawyer Richard Langton.
Class action in action
Class action suits have gained traction in recent years across the US with many cases still ongoing. Lawyers who are working on the cases say that numbers looks to be steadily rising.
"The personal injury cases are still there, but in addition to those, there are cases being brought on consumer-protection laws that are developing," said attorney James Quadra.
"Slowly, people are looking at consumer protection laws as a mechanism for holding people accountable for effecting change," he added.