Can car manufacturers be liable for accident-causing defects?

Categorized: Auto Accidents

Can car manufacturers be liable for accident-causing defects?

When a vehicle defect endangers motorists or limits the proper operation of a car, manufacturers may issue recalls to protect consumers. However, in many cases, these defects cause accidents long before the designer or manufacturer takes responsibility for their negligence — if they ever do.

If you have been seriously injured in a Pennsylvania car accident caused by a defective vehicle, you can file a claim for compensation from the manufacturer if you can demonstrate they are liable for the defective parts.

When is a vehicle manufacturer liable for a defective product?

In order to have a viable case against the vehicle manufacturer, you must establish that the defective part caused your injuries.

Components that fail and create an inconvenience usually do not qualify for an injury claim. For example, when the air conditioning system fails it is unlikely to cause a crash or injuries. If the failure causes a fire and you suffer burns, however, you could be eligible to file for compensation from the vehicle or parts manufacturer. Some of the most common vehicle defects involve:

  • Seat belts
  • Airbags
  • Steering
  • Wheels
  • Tires

Are there other parties who might be responsible for my injuries?

In many cases, you may be able to hold more than one party responsible if a vehicle defect caused your crash. The chain of distribution for cars — from designers and parts manufacturers to assembly plants and distributors — means that several parties have a responsibility to protect consumers from the effects of defective parts or a defective design.

Oftentimes, this includes the car manufacturer and the manufacturer of the defective part. For example, when there were issues with tread separation on SUV tires in the early 2000s, both the Ford Motor Company and Firestone faced legal action. 

The dealership where you purchased the car is another potential liable party in many defective vehicle claims. This is especially true if there is a recall and the dealership fails to replace the part before selling you the car.

What type of evidence is necessary to support these claims?

Just as you might think, it is never easy to take on a major corporation. There are consumer protection laws, however, that can help you prove your case. To hold the manufacturer liable, you must prove:

  • The vehicle or part was defective
  • This defect caused or contributed to the accident
  • You suffered injuries in this accident

Perhaps the most critical piece of evidence is the vehicle or part itself. While it may make transportation difficult or necessitate a rental car, it is important to preserve the vehicle as it was immediately after the crash. Do not make any changes or repairs until your lawyer advises it.

Other evidence in your case may include:

  • Police reports about the accident
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Instructions, warranties or warnings included with your vehicle
  • Testimony about similar incidents

You will also need to provide medical records proving the serious nature of your injuries. These may include:

  • Medical bills
  • X-rays
  • Prescriptions
  • Interviews with medical experts
  • Documentation of your rehabilitation

You can expect the manufacturer to attempt to hold you liable for your own injuries, often by arguing that you knew the risks of driving the vehicle, or that you were using it incorrectly at the time of the crash. Your lawyer will help you build a strong case to fight this type of defense.

Should I contact an attorney about my car accident case?

If a vehicle defect caused your car accident, you may be eligible to collect compensation for your serious injuries. These cases are complex, and it is vital to have an attorney on your side who is familiar with this type of claim. If your crash occurred in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, Cordisco & Saile can offer the legal counsel you need. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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