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Automotive Product Liability

Auto accidents are not always caused by bad drivers, hazardous weather, or driver distractions. Car accidents also occur as a result of automotive product defects. Mechanical defects can cause a car to be unsafe while driving or unsafe after an accident.

If an automobile has a defect, and you are injured as result, then the car's manufacturer may be liable for your injury. This is known as automotive products liability.

The U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety defines a “defect” in an auto product or part as “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment” (Title 49, Chapter 301). A defective or unsafe automobile is one that creates a risk to safety. Defects often exist in all vehicles of the same make, model, or manufacture.

Common types of cases that involve automotive product liability include:

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a manufacturing or design defect, you may be able to sue the car’s manufacturer for the injuries you have suffered.

Types of Automotive Product Defects

An automotive product defect can come in two different ways:

Manufacturing Defect of Car or Car Part: A manufacturing defect is a type of defect that exists in one specific car rather than the entire line of cars within that make or model. This can occur if during the manufacturing process, there was a faulty error that was not inspected and discovered by the manufacturer. Even if the manufacturer exercised due care and did not discover the defect, a manufacturer would be held strictly liable.

Defectively Designed Car: A car has a defective design if all cars in the specific make or model have been defectively designed and the design of the car poses an unreasonable safety risk.

Who Is at Fault: Manufacturer or Dealership?

Suing a car manufacturer for automotive product liability is very similar to any lawsuit any other kind of manufacturer for product liability. A plaintiff that was injured in a car accident can go after anyone that was in last control of the defective vehicle. Even if an auto-dealership was not at fault in designing the vehicle or manufacturing the vehicle, they would be liable since they are in the “chain of distribution” and the defective vehicle was in their control when in was defective. The plaintiff can go after the manufacturer or the auto dealership in the lawsuit for damages.

As for plaintiffs involved, any plaintiff that was injured as a result of the defective vehicle can bring a lawsuit. The owner of the vehicle is not the only person that could bring a automobile defect lawsuit. For example, if a plaintiff borrowed the defective car from a friend and was injured because of an auto defect, the friend can bring a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or dealership.

Recovering Damages from the Manufacturer for My Accident

Suing a car manufacturer for automotive product liability is very similar to suing any other kind of manufacturer for product liability. The plaintiff is entitled to any kind of damages that they suffered as a result of the defective vehicle. These include compensatory damages, future medical expenses, past medical expenses. In many personal injury claims, “special damages” are also available. These are damages that are not directly caused by the defendant, but are still connected to the defendant’s conduct such as future lost wages, caretaker expenses, etc.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Automotive products liability is a complicated legal subject and automotive product liability law varies from state to state. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand automotive products liability and how your state law will affect your case.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-09-2018 10:11 PM PST

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