If you get hurt in an accident when is it the fault of the auto manufacturer?
Car manufacturers make amazingly safe vehicles an overwhelming majority of the time. But, they’re prone to doing things wrong from time-to-time.
For example, Takata had a huge airbag recall because their airbags would explode and shoot metal shards all over the interior of cars. 15 people died in the US, while 250 were injured.
And Takata? It eventually went bankrupt. This was not only the largest defective product liability issue in automotive history… it was the largest product liability issue for any product. Ever.
It ended up affecting around 37 million cars and 50 million airbags. They had to take responsibility for their faulty manufacturing. But when does an auto manufacturer have legal liability for their actions… and when don’t they? Let’s clear up the issue.
Manufacturer Fault in Car Accidents
Negligence Isn’t Necessary
As long as a car manufacturer’s actions led to the creation of a product which caused your injuries, they can be held legally liable (called “strict liability”).
You don’t have to show they behaved negligently in any way. They could have observed every safety protocol to perfection. But if they still ended up creating a defective product somehow, you can recover financial damages if their product causes an injury to you.
Compare this to motor vehicle collisions, where you must show the other driver owed you a duty of care but behaved negligently in some way. In other words, there’s a lower burden of proof. And it’s easier to recover financial damages in this case.
But Negligence Can Still Be Used
Manufacturers still have a legal obligation to build products in a reasonable way not likely to cause their product to harm others.
Negligence in the manufacturing of car products is much more difficult to show. You must present concrete evidence of actions the manufacturer took or failed to take.
Breach of Warranty
A warranty for a product can be implied or expressly granted in writing. If the manufacturer violates the warranty in any way, you might have recourse to recover financial damages from them.
However, breach of warranty is exceedingly rare and difficult to prove. It is by far the least common of the three ways to potentially show the fault of an auto manufacturer.
How to Prove Manufacturer Liability
Proving liability is a relatively simple process. Here’s the steps our personal injury lawyers take:
- Showing the product had a defect in design, manufacture, or warning labels.
- Proving you suffered an injury while using the product as intended.
- Showing your injury resulted from the defect.
- Demonstrating the damage you experienced in an auto accident which you can be compensated for by Texas law.
Generally, manufacturers of car products are large corporations and they can hire skilled lawyers to defend their case. That means you need an experienced attorney with proven success in winning claims versus auto manufacturers.
If you believe you have experienced injuries and financial damages as a result of a defective auto product, ask the personal injury attorney you talk to if they have specific experience in proving that type of claim.
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.