The intersection between automobile accidents and product liability law highlights important safety and corporate accountability issues. Injured parties may pursue legal action against manufacturers when defective vehicle components contribute to crashes.
This article from our San Diego car accident lawyers examines the relationship between faulty automotive parts and collisions. We will explore high-profile lawsuits, seminal cases, and the complex legal dynamics that arise when product flaws result in accidents.
We can better comprehend the potential risks when defects occur by analyzing the connection between effective product design, diligent manufacturing, and accident outcomes. Additionally, understanding precedent helps inform future litigation to uphold safety standards and consumer rights.
Table of Contents
What Is Product Liability in Car Accidents?
When a faulty car part leads to a car accident, it raises questions about consumer protection and who’s responsible. If bad brakes, airbags that don’t open, or other defects play a role in an accident, those hurt in the wreck may be able to take legal action against whoever made the part.
Looking closely at how flawed auto components can lead to collisions helps make clear who should be held accountable. Did the brakes fail because of a manufacturing issue? Was the airbag’s design defective? Understanding how these defects tie into accidents is key for those harmed to get compensation and hold the right people liable.
People have a right to expect safe, reliable cars from manufacturers. When flawed parts betray that trust, we must re-examine how to keep automakers accountable and prevent harm.
The connection between bad auto parts and accidents concerns more than legal claims. It’s about pushing for stronger consumer protection so drivers aren’t put at risk by companies cutting corners.
What Are Common Defective Auto Parts?
Many different vehicle components can malfunction and cause accidents when flaws go undetected.
Some of the most common defective parts involved in crashes include:
- Faulty Brakes: Brake issues are among the most frequent causes of car accidents. Worn brake pads, brake fluid leaks, or glitches in anti-lock brake software can lead to loss of braking and inability to stop.
- Defective Tires: Faulty tire design or manufacturing defects can result in tread separation or unexpected blowouts. This causes drivers to lose control suddenly.
- Airbag Malfunctions: When airbags do not deploy as intended in a crash, occupants are at significant risk of injury. Defective airbag inflators or programming glitches can prevent proper airbag inflation.
- Power Steering Loss: If power steering belts snap or the system has a mechanical failure, the loss of assistance can lead to impaired steering and driver loss of control.
- Seat Belt Defects: Compromised seat belt buckles, retractors, or anchors reduce restraint systems’ effectiveness, heightening occupant ejection chances.
These and other faulty parts demonstrate how product defects daily jeopardize driver and passenger safety.
What Are Some Notable Car Accident Cases That Involve Product Liability?
Notable court cases have profoundly influenced how product liability law applies to car accidents.
GM was involved in two major product liability suits.
In 1999, GM faced a major lawsuit over allegations that its 1979 Chevy Malibu had a defective gas tank prone to exploding and burning occupants when rear-ended – a flaw GM allegedly knew about but declined to fix due to cost concerns. Six severely burned plaintiffs sought $4.9 billion in punitive damages, presenting evidence that GM knew the Malibu gas tank could rupture and ignite in collisions, often trapping passengers.
This prominent personal injury and product liability case underscored the importance of holding automakers accountable when defective designs jeopardize consumer protection.
In 2008, General Motors faced another major class action lawsuit alleging its Dex-Cool engine coolant was defective, causing leaks and engine damage. Approximately 35 million GM customers sued for around $150 million, claiming the coolant caused overheating, sludge build-up, and corrosion. The case settled with customers receiving $50 to $800 each.
Despite the small payouts, the suit demonstrated consumer power to hold automakers accountable for faulty components through collective legal action.
How to Prove Product Liability in a Car Accident?
Injured parties can pursue compensation through product liability lawsuits when a defective product contributes to a car accident. But how is a product liability claim established in these cases?
Plaintiffs must demonstrate that a flawed vehicle component deviated from design specifications or manufacturing standards, making the part unreasonably dangerous. Expert testimony comparing the failed amount to industry regulations or engineering guidelines can show deviations from safety norms.
Next, it must be proven that the component failure directly caused or worsened the accident, based on accident reconstruction, vehicle inspections, and other evidence tying the defect to the crash dynamics.
Finally, the manufacturer’s negligence must be established, such as knowing about a faulty part but failing to issue a recall or warning. Internal documents can demonstrate awareness of a defect while choosing not to act shows negligence.
Meeting these evidentiary burdens allows plaintiffs to hold automakers and parts suppliers accountable under product liability laws when flaws lead to foreseeable harm. Demonstrating that a faulty product directly generated or amplified crash injuries is crucial for just compensation.
Stand Up to the Big Guys With Experienced Help From HHJ
As we’ve seen, defective auto parts play a major role in many tragic car accidents. Faulty brakes, shoddy tires, and other product flaws endanger drivers daily.
Holding manufacturers accountable is crucial, but pursuing compensation remains complex.
That’s why you need an experienced legal team.
Contact us today for the representation you need for your product liability car accident case.