When Is a Car Manufacturer Liable
for an Accident?
Nov. 26, 2021
Most often when someone thinks about liability for a car accident, they think about the fault of another driver. A negligent driver, however, is not the only party that can be held liable for a car accident that causes injuries or death. Sometimes, a crash is caused by a failure of the vehicle itself.
Everyone assumes a certain amount of risk every time they get into a vehicle, but most of us count on our vehicles to be safe to operate. When something fails, the manufacturer could be liable for the damages suffered.
The Torres Attorneys are here to help if you believe your accident occurred as the result of a product failure. We work with clients pursuing product liability claims in Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the rest of Texas.
What Types of Issues Cause Car Accidents?
In automobiles, there are thousands of parts and multiple systems, all with the potential to fail. That is why car owners should maintain their vehicles and why the state of Texas requires annual safety inspections. It does not mean that every defective part or system will be found. Some of the most common defects that could cause an accident are defective brakes, faulty computers, random acceleration and deceleration, defective tires, and defective steering systems. Additionally, a poorly designed wheelbase or faulty axle can cause a vehicle to roll.
Product failures may also occur during the impact of an accident, causing injuries or even death, such as seats, headrests, anchors tethering child safety seats, and seatbelts that fail. Airbags, too, may deploy incorrectly or not at all. Even the structure of the vehicle itself could collapse in a rollover crash.
What Is the Standard for Proving Product Liability?
Texas has a strict product liability law that allows victims who can prove fault with a product to hold the manufacturer liable for damages. In a car crash caused by a negligent driver, you must prove that they were negligent by doing or not doing something a reasonable person would or would not do. Strict liability, on the other hand, requires only proof that a product resulted in the death or injury of the victim, not necessarily negligence on the part of the manufacturer.
Three Types of Product Defect Claims in Texas
Most products now are sold with user manuals and feature labels and tags that warn the user of certain dangers. When a manufacturer does not provide a warning which a reasonable person would need to avoid danger or to provide instructions for the safe use of a product, liability is based on a failure to warn. However, the victim would be unable to hold the manufacturer liable if they failed to read or observe the warning.
Parts with manufacturing defects fail at random, often due to a breakdown in quality control measures. Most of those parts are safe; however, some of them, because defects were not caught in the quality control process, fail and cause injury or death. Products could also fail due to a defect in the design itself, and not the manufacturing of the design.
Proving Product Liability in Texas
While it is true that there is no need to prove negligence in a Texas product liability claim, victims still need to meet a standard of evidence, based on the type of defect. If alleging a manufacturing defect, you must prove it was defective, which usually requires producing the product itself. If it was destroyed in the accident, evidence may be difficult if not impossible to obtain.
The standard of evidence in a design defect claim requires not only that a different design could have been used, but that design would have offered the same use and profitability as the one that failed.
Finally, proof in a case based on the manufacturer’s failure to warn is based on a “reasonable user.” You would need to offer evidence that the manufacturer should have provided a warning because a reasonable user could not have anticipated the danger.
Manufacturers tend to have high liability insurance policy limits which means there is usually significant money at stake. They will retain attorneys to challenge the evidence against them to avoid paying settlements and judgments. You should retain personal injury attorneys experienced with product liability cases to fight back.
Car Accident Attorneys in Corpus Christi, Texas
The Torres Attorneys don’t back down when lawyers hired by car manufacturers attempt to conceal their clients’ liability. Whether they were reckless or just cut corners to increase profits, manufacturers must be held accountable when their failures, and those of their products, cause harm to innocent victims like you.
If you think a defective car caused your injuries or a loved one’s death in Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, or anywhere else in Texas, Contact our office right away. Set up a consultation with us to get started.