Defective Automobiles: Product Liability and Cars


April 28, 2017

Most car accidents are the result of careless driving. It is usually the case that one or both drivers were not paying attention, speeding, or otherwise failing to drive cautiously. There are however times when accidents and injuries are not the result of a driver's error, but rather, are caused by a flaw in one of the vehicles involved in the accident. Sometimes the design of the car causes it to flip easily, or tires are flawed in such a way that they blow out easily. There are many different types of defects that a car might have, and some of them can lead to dangers for the individuals riding in the cars, and to other people on the road. 

"The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (originally enacted in 1966 and now recodified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301) gives the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet Federal safety standards. Since then, more than 390 million cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds, as well as 46 million tires, 66 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment, and 42 million child safety seats have been recalled to correct safety defects. Read more here."

Proving liability in a car accident with a defective car

It is often the case that the cause of a car accident is unclear or a matter of debate. It is also common for there to be more than one cause of a car accident. If a defect in the car, or one of the cars involved is believed to have been the cause or one of the causes, then certain things must be shown in order to prove liability.

First, some harm must have been done. If a car has a defect, but no one was injured and no property damage was caused, then there is no liability. It also must be the case that there was a defect in the car, and that it was not a defect caused by the owner after it left the control of the manufacturer. And finally, the defect must have been the cause of the injury or other damage. In other words, if you were in a car with defective tires, and got into a car accident because you ran a stop sign, then the tires were not the cause of the accident, even if they were defective.

What can make a car defective?

In product liability cases, defects are divided into three categories. One type of defect can involve design, which results from a product that is designed in such a way that it is dangerous even when properly manufactured. The defect can also be a manufacturing problem, where the design was perfectly safe, but some error in the manufacturing process created a problem. The third type of defect has to do with warnings, but this is less likely to be the case with defective cars. A warning defect occurs when the product is designed and manufactured correctly, but could present dangers anyway. For instance, if a medication was dangerous for children under 10, but failed to include such a warning, the drug manufacturer could be liable for failure to warn of the dangers.

Who is liable if a car is defective?

In most cases, anyone included in the chain of distribution is possibly liable in a product liability claim. This would include manufacturers, companies that assembled parts from various manufacturers, or companies that sold the car.

What if I think the car was defective and the other driver was negligent?

If product liability and negligence are both possible causes of the action, both claims can be filed. Accidents with multiple causes are not uncommon.

If you were in an accident and suspect that a defect in one of the cars was a contributing cause of the damage that occurred, you should contact an experienced attorney to have your claim evaluated and to determine the best strategy for recovering compensation for your injuries.

Sources:

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/recallprocess.cfm

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Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.