If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and want to sue the other driver, normally you have to prove their negligence to recover. However, if you were injured and want to instead sue a vehicle's manufacturer or seller, you do not need to show that they were careless. Instead, liability in motor vehicle defect cases is controlled by the doctrine of strict liability.
What Do I Have to Show To Prove A Car Defect?
In order to recover damages for a injury suffered as a result of a defect in the car itself, you must prove:
- The vehicle or one of its components had an "unreasonably dangerous" defect that injured you. The defect may have come into existence either in the design of the vehicle, during manufacture, during handling or shipment, or through a failure to warn consumers of a dangerous aspect of the vehicle. An example of this are Takata airbags that are in many Honda cars, which are known to explode in certain extreme temperatures.
- The defect caused an injury while the vehicle was being used in a way that it was intended to be used. For example, you may not be able to recover if a sports car was being used off road.
- The vehicle had not been substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold. "Substantially" means in a way that affects how the vehicle performs.
Are There Any Defenses To Car Defect Claims?
The vehicle manufacturer or the seller may have a defense to your strict liability injury claims, especially if you have owned the vehicle for some time, if it can be shown that you knew about the defect but continued to use the vehicle anyway. This is usually proven either through the vehicle's condition or from your own description of your use of the vehicle. In some states, a manufacturer or seller may also be able to defend against your motor vehicle defect claim under the theory that your contributory or comparative negligence was the cause of, or a factor in, your injuries.
Can A Manufacturer Be Liable For Punitive Damages?
Successful claims against manufacturers sometimes include awards of punitive damages, which are awards above and beyond normal damages intended to punish vehicle manufacturers and encourage them to fix inherent defects in vehicle designs that have resulted in injury.
Should I Consult An Attorney about Car Defect Injuries?
If you have been injured by a car defect, you may be entitled to recover damages for your injuries. Proving your case can be difficult, but a products and services attorney can help explain the law and put your case together so that you can assert your right to recover damages.