It May Not be Too Late to make PIP Breast Implant Claims for Compensation
Many women in the UK have questioned whether they are still able to make PIP breast implant claims for compensation following the recall of implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothése (PIP) in March 2010.
Usually, medical negligence claims for injuries due to cosmetic surgery have to be made within three years of an injury being discovered and, with the amount of press that was dedicated to the recall at the time, it is unlikely that PIP breast implant claims on the grounds of medical negligence would be successful if they were made after the Statute of Limitations has expired.
However, there are other channels which allow women to recover compensation for faulty breast implants – regardless of whether an injury has been sustained or not – and this article aims to provide information about the most appropriate avenues for making PIP breast implant claims.
The PIP Recall and Subsequent Events
Prior to the recall of the PIP implants, the French healthcare regulatory authority – AFSSAPS – identified a higher rate of implant rupture in implants manufactured by Poly Implant Prothése. A subsequent inspection of the factory revealed that a protective coating had been removed from the production process – causing the implants to rupture and leak more frequently than other brands of breast implants – and that the PIP implants had been filled with industrial grade silicon which was lower than the standard required for medical products.
AFSSAPS immediately banned the use of PIP implants in France – a move subsequently followed by the UK´s regulatory authority Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, whereas the French authorities identified a risk of injury due to the nature of the gel and funded the removal of breast implants for any women who requested it – one woman died from anaplastic large cell lymphoma due to the industrial silicone leaking from a breast implant – the MHRA refused to acknowledge that there was a risk to health and advised that there was no need for “routine removal”.
Due to the volume of public pressure, the Department of Health subsequently announced that any woman who had been given PIP implants on the NHS as part of breast reconstruction surgery could have them removed and replaced. Women who had undergone breast enhancement surgery for “cosmetic reasons” (which according to the MHRA included those who had implants to address confidence issues) could only have the breast implants removed on the NHS if the private clinic at which they had originally undergone surgery refused to help them and if their GP determined there was a medical reason for the removal of the implants.
Claiming Compensation for Faulty Breast Implants
Despite it no longer being likely that medical negligence claims for injuries due to cosmetic surgery will be successful, there are other routes for claiming compensation for faulty breast implants.
As the breast implants manufactured by Poly Implant Prothése have been identified as not fit for the purpose they were intended, it is possible to make claims against the UK supplier of the breast implants – Cloverleaf Products – or the clinic at which you underwent surgery under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982.
If the surgery has gone out of business since the implant procedure, it may still be possible to claim compensation for faulty breast implants against the clinics´ insurers – although not against Poly Implant Prothése´s former insurers Allianz, who reached the limit of their insurance coverage (€3 million) following a court judgement in June 2012.
If you paid for your breast enhancement surgery by credit card, it may also be possible to recover compensation for faulty breast implants from your credit card company under §75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1975 – although, in order to make PIP breast implant claims against your credit card company, you must have undergone breast enhancement surgery within the last six years.
Current Legal Action for PIP Breast Implant Claims
Women who were within the time limits to make medical negligence claims for injuries due to cosmetic surgery had limited success in recovering compensation, and subsequently a Group Litigation Order (GLO) was endorsed by the High Court to allow unsuccessful claimants to group together to make PIP breast implant claims against five leading UK cosmetic surgery clinics including Transform.
More than a thousand women have joined the GLO, and the first hearing is scheduled to take place in London during October 2014. Unfortunately for women who did not join the legal action before the April 2013 deadline, it is now too late to participate in this legal action. However, the outcome of the case will influence future decisions in subsequent litigation.
Of more relevance to women who have not yet claimed compensation for faulty breast implants is a trial that took place in Toulon last November. The trial found the German company responsible for overseeing the quality control at Poly Implant Prothése negligent for issuing the implants with a Conformité Européenne (CE) marking which implied they met European standards for safety.
More than 1,700 claimants (from all over the world) were awarded an interim compensation payment of €3,000 in order that they may privately pay for the PIP implants to be removed and, subject to an appeal by the German company (TUV Rheinland), a compensation package for all the claimants relative to their respective injuries will be announced shortly.
IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN THE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST TUV RHEINLAND, BUT IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU SPEAK WITH A SOLICITOR AT THE FIRST POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY
What is Likely to be Included in Compensation Settlements?
Subject to the judgement against TUV Rheinland being upheld on appeal, settlements of compensation for faulty breast implants are likely to include the cost of replacement breast implants, compensation for the physical pain and suffering of replacement implant surgery and compensation for the emotional trauma that each of the victims has suffered.
Women who are diagnosed with a physical injury due to a leak of industrial grade silicone will be awarded a high level of compensation for faulty breast implants, although the maximum amount that is awarded will be likely capped at €30,000 (£24,000). Each of the PIP breast implant claims will be judged on its individual circumstances and, with so many claimants involved in the action, it may take a considerable amount of time before all the claims are resolved.
Speak with your GP and a Solicitor about PIP Implants
If you are one of the 47,000 women in the UK who received PIP implants, the first thing you should do is to speak with your GP to arrange a scan in order to check that your implants have not ruptured or are not leaking. Your GP should also be able to advise you about support groups and counselling if you are worried about the integrity of your breast implants or anxious about the long-term effects of enhancement surgery.
Thereafter, you should contact our medical negligence advice bureau and speak with a solicitor to find out about the latest developments in the TUV Rheinland case to establish whether you are still in time to make PIP breast implant claims or if another avenue for claiming compensation for faulty breast implants has become available.
Even if you have not been implanted with the faulty PIP implants, you should speak with a solicitor if you have suffered any adverse effects from cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons have the same duty of care as hospital surgeons and, if you have suffered a physical or emotional injury due to the surgeon´s negligence – or have been left with excessive scarring after a procedure, it may be possible to make compensation claims for injuries due to cosmetic surgery.
Disclaimer: The information reproduced on this page is no substitute for seeking professional legal advice about compensation for faulty breast implants or claims for injuries due to cosmetic surgery. Nothing on this page should be interpreted as legal advice nor constitutes a client-solicitor relationship. You should always speak directly to an experienced solicitor to receive legal advice which is relevant to your particular situation.