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Many metal-on-metal hip patients 'unaware of cut off point', lawyer warns

Victims of defective products urged to seek urgent advice

Metal on metal implants have left some patients in pain

19 June 2015

Patients who sustained life-altering injuries as a result of allegedly defective metal-on-metal hip replacements are being urged to seek urgent, independent legal advice amidst concerns that many are unaware of a cut-off point that could see them unable to claim compensation for their injuries under the Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”).

Thousands of people, many of whom have been forced to undergo an early revision surgery due to injuries caused by the allegedly defective implants, are already involved in group actions to recover damages.

But with the claims being brought under the CPA – which requires legal action to be commenced within ten years of a product being put into circulation (e.g. sold to a hospital) – legal experts at Leigh Day say some victims risk missing the deadline without even knowing.

Gene Matthews, a partner in the firm’s consumer law and product safety team, said: “When the metal-on-metal hips first entered the medical marketplace they were considered to be cutting edge technology. A revolutionary piece of medical engineering that would mean patients could go even longer between replacements (or potentially entirely remove the need for further hip replacement surgery).

“But the reality was quite different; with many people having to undergo revision surgery within a few years, and others suffering irreversible damage that has had a devastating impact on their day to day lives.”

Mr Matthews goes on to explain that although a patient may have had the hip replacement fitted within the last decade, if the defective metal-on-metal product was put into circulation more than ten years ago the manufacturer could avoid legal responsibility under the CPA.

He said: “This is a real flaw in the Consumer Protection Act; a piece of legislation intended to make it easier for people to bring a claim when a product (such as the metal-on-metal hips) goes on to cause significant injury to so many people.

“The nature of the ten year cut-off point, though, means that even if the hip was fitted just a few years ago, if it was manufactured before 2005 the individual cannot claim under the CPA.

“Some of the patients we represent continue to suffer from pain and reduced mobility despite having undergone revision surgery, for others the impact is so severe that they have lost much of their independence; now relying on carers to help them with simple tasks, and forced to make adaptations to their homes.”
Whilst other replacement hips are known to last upwards of 25 years, some of the patients involved in the group actions being led by Leigh Day had to undergo revision surgery just 5-years after the first product was fitted.
Mr Matthews said: “We would urge anyone affected as a result of a metal-on-metal hip replacement, irrespective of the manufacturer or where they underwent the surgery, to seek independent, legal advice, with a view to establishing whether they can still make a claim for damages under the CPA.”

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