This Little Light of Mine: Dangers of Faulty or Defective String Lighting
At a time of year when the days are shortest, is it any wonder that we take such delight in seeing so many twinkling little lights, both inside and outside our homes? Of course, as with virtually anything, the string lights that adorn eavestroughs, trees and balconies do come with a potential risk of injury. Falls that occur when hanging these lights up are so commonplace that medical studies have even been produced on the topic.
But there are secondary dangers that can be caused by defective lights themselves, and not necessarily through any fault of a person using them.
In this blog post, I explore the dangers of defective string lights, note why some brands have been subject to recent recalls, and explain how a product liability lawsuit may benefit you if you’ve been seriously hurt by defective lights - at any time of the year.
Defects in String Lights.
As with other defective light bulbs and lighting products, string lights can provide signals that serve as a warning of potential harm when they are in use. For example, humming or buzzing sounds, burning smells, excessive heat, signs of scorching (including on wall outlets), unexpected flickering or dimming, damaged or exposed wiring, and broken bulbs should be heeded as signs that the it may be a product with design defects that is unsafe to continue using.
Although these product defects may have been introduced during design, manufacture or poorly communicated instructions for use and warnings, other problems can occur with improper handling or use (such as excessive daisy chaining of strings) or improper wiring in extension cords or other home wiring.
Recent Recalls of String Lights.
In the past decade or so, there have been multiple manufacturer recalls of string lights in Canada and abroad, including:
- Bed Bath and Beyond’s “H for Happy 50-count LED Basic Christmas String Lights in White,” which pose a risk of shock.
- Dollarama’s “Christmas Light 50 Miniature Straight Line Indoor Light Set,” which poses a risk of overheating and catching fire.
- Noël Éternel Inc.’s “60 LED Mini-Style Lights,” which pose an electric shock hazard.
- Family Dollar’s “200 Mini Lights” and “Multi Lights, Green Wire,” which pose a fire hazard.
- Bunkhouse and Lotsa’s “20 LED Everyday, Christmas and Hallowe’en lights,” which pose a fire hazard and burn risk
Injuries From Defective and/or Recalled Products.
In many of the recall notices mentioned above, the manufacturer proactively recalled the product from the marketplace despite no reports of injury or damage at the time. And, a recall in itself is not grounds for a product liability lawsuit. Nevertheless, if a lawsuit is filed when a product has already been recalled from the market, the recall does not absolve a manufacturer from liability if damages have occurred due to the defect either before or after the recall.
In Ontario, consumers can file a product liability lawsuit if they can prove a flaw that made a product “unreasonably dangerous” existed when the product was made available to the public. The defect could be by design, manufacture or marketing.
Once a consumer has shown a product to be “unreasonably dangerous,” they must show:
- the defendant owed them a duty of care,
- the duty of care was breached due to negligence,
- the defect directly caused the injury, and
- they are entitled to pecuniary and/or non-pecuniary compensation as a result.
As we’ve noted in past blog posts, even if a plaintiff has suffered damages from a defective product, their own actions may be used by the defendants in an attempt to limit their liability. An experienced product liability lawyer can help investigate the circumstances behind an injury and often anticipate and counter arguments the defence may use to try to escape or limit their exposure to liability.
Help When You’ve Been Hurt.
When a relatively inexpensive type of product such as string lights turns out to be faulty, there’s a tendency for some people to throw up their arms and say “Well, you get what you pay for.” But cheaply made products can cost you dearly if manufacturing defects lead to serious damage.
Whether defective string lights cause property damage through fire or you or a loved one are injured through burns, electric shock, or by other means, you deserve compensation if a manufacturer, distributor or merchant caused you harm through their own negligence.
Subscribe to our Newsletter