Liability for defects in motor vehicles stems from the general concept of product liability, a branch of law which determines when manufacturers are at fault for placing manufactured products available to consumers.
If the products do not meet ordinary consumer expectations, usually in the form of injury to the consumers, manufacturers may be held liable. Such defects may be:
Motor vehicles can be defective in a variety of ways. Some of the most common defects are with:
While almost every part of a motor vehicle can result in a product liability claim, certain parts are more likely to result in a claim. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015 around 500 people died from to a car accident due to tire malfunction.
From 2005 to 2007, the NHTSA found that the majority of car accidents (94%) are due to driver's negligence, but 2% was due to vehicle malfunction. Of those 2%, these are some of the most common product failures that attribute to the overall statistic:
If you wish to take action against a manufacturer following injury by one of their motor vehicles, several items must be proven:
The manufacturer, if sued, may try to show either that these conditions are not met, or show contributory negligence on the part of the consumer.
Evidence used in the claim may include: physical items from the car, which is often gleaned from the accident scene; video or photographs; witness testimony; police reports and other written documents; and similar claims from other plaintiffs.
Many motor vehicle product liability lawsuits end up being filed as class action lawsuits if many people were injured by the same type of car.
If you have been injured while driving a vehicle, and believe that the vehicle was defective, you may want to contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate your case. When successful, consumers may be entitled to punitive damages.
Last Modified: 06-07-2018 12:19 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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