Several stories have now surfaced in the media about Australians being badly burnt when using their Thermomix appliances. Some victims say they were using their Thermomix according to a Thermomix recipe when the lid burst open spraying hot food over the user which caused burns to the arms, chest and – in some cases – face. Recently leading consumer advocacy group CHOICE appeared on Channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’ and asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate the product. In particular CHOICE was concerned with the sealing ring, which has already been the subject of some concern. Back in 2014, an ACCC product recall notice was issued.
So what should you do if you have a Thermomix and are concerned?
The ACCC product recall notice (dated 7 October 2014). Owners should check the bottom of their machine to see if their Thermomix is a model 31-1. If you have such a model then you should be careful to follow the instructions on how to open the lid as set out in that notice. In addition you should contact Thermomix and request a replacement seal.
What if you have suffered burns caused by your Thermomix?
In Australia the supplier of a product warrants that it is safe. Typically an injured person would bring a claim under the law of negligence, or, as a breach of the consumer law (Competition & Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)). If the machine is shown to have a ‘safety defect’ by reason of its design or manufacture then the supplier can be held liable under the law for any injury that that defect has caused. In simple terms a machine would be considered to be ‘defective’ if the safety of the machine is not such as ‘persons are entitled to expect’. It is arguable that a kitchen appliance that explodes when being used in accordance with a published Thermomix recipe could be defective within the meaning of the law.
What should I do if I am injured?
You must get medical treatment. You should keep all receipts that relate to any treatment expense that you incur.
Keep possession of your Thermomix machine. Do not release the machine to anybody without advice from a solicitor. Do not tamper with your machine. Do not try to fix your machine. Chat to a solicitor and get advice.
What if I have been negotiating with Thermomix and they want me to sign an agreement?
Get legal advice. It is important that any settlement covers all of your losses: those that you have already incurred as well as any future losses. In addition you should be aware that your settlement may have implications for Centrelink benefits, Medicare and your private health insurance. The media is also reporting cases where Thermomix wants victims to sign confidentiality clauses as part of any settlement. You should get advice on this before signing.
Kakulas Legal has been representing injured plaintiffs for over 55 years. We are a small, highly specialised firm that only takes work in personal injury law. Although most of our clients are making motor vehicle accident claims, we also have experience representing people who have been injured in all sorts of circumstances. In fact, we are currently acting for someone injured using a Thermomix in a similar way to the cases making headlines.
In unusual injury cases such as these an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate a process that might be too daunting to tackle alone.
If you have any queries, call us for an obligation-free chat on (08) 9325 4799.
Lian Hall (Senior Lawyer) & Peter Kakulas (Senior Lawyer/Director)