Technology may have advanced our cars so much, we can even get to where we want without needing to drive. Driverless cars may soon be out en masse on the streets pretty soon. Plus, you can get direction via a navigation app such as Waze. And yet, even with all the tech, thousands still perish on the streets of America to vehicle accidents. It’s a pity. In 2019 alone, motor vehicle crashes resulted in 36,096 deaths. Anybody can tell you these are far too many lives wasted.
Many of these road mishaps are due to driver negligence. For instance, distracted driving sits at the top as the #1 cause of car accidents. Drunk driving and speeding also top causes of car accidents. What many don’t know is that sometimes a defective car is at the center of an accident. When that happens, you can actually claim for a product liability claim. Meaning, the manufacturer or the dealer, or whoever was responsible would be liable and made to pay.
But as you may know by now, there’s a proper procedure to get your liability claim processed. It’s important then that you be in the know on how to do things right. And get your well-deserved compensation in the process.
The Case Against Defective Cars
Know that every manufacturer is liable to damages if its product causes harm to the user. Philip Morris, for instance, was sued in 2002 by a woman who contracted lung cancer due to heavy smoking. She alleged the company failed to warn her of the risks. The company found guilty was made to pay $28 million in punitive damages.
And the same holds true for car manufacturers. In 2008, for example, General Motors was made to pay as much as $20 billion after a class-action suit got filed claiming the presence of a toxic chemical in the Dex-Cool coolant used in its cars.
There are many instances of motor vehicle defects that, over the years, have become the subject of lawsuits. Some of these are:
- “Woobly” Motorcycles
- Car tires prone to blowout
- SUVs that are prone to rollover
Again, it’s important to remember that there are laws that cover such liabilities. It’s wise therefore that you consult a competent lawyer if you or a loved one get into a vehicular accident caused by a defective car. Usually, these car accidents involve the backbone causing massive damage to the bones and muscles of the back. Getting in touch with a lawyer who works on spinal cord injury cases would be wise in this regard.
Take note that spinal cord injuries are not cheap. Depending on the range of the damage, medical costs could rack up to over $1 million in the first year alone. To make matters worse, you’ll have to spend thousands of dollars each year to rehabilitate yourself, not to mention that you could be out of a job during those times.
Who is Liable?
A good way to start your product liability claim is to identify the defendant in your case. Know that potential defendants may include entities other than the car manufacturer itself. If you’re not too sure, get your lawsuit in order by doing some due diligence.
Usually, any chain of distribution involving the car can be made liable. These include:
Manufacturer. It’s a long shot. Indeed, taking on the manufacturer of a car in a product liability case is taking on a giant. While these companies (e.g., Toyota, GM, Ford) are moneyed, they also have a battery of lawyers who would do everything in their power to defend their clients. In short, it can take years and is an uphill climb.
Parts Manufacturer. Should your case involve a car part such as tires then it makes sense to direct your suit against the manufacturer of the parts, assuming it’s a different entity to the car manufacturer. You can choose to sue both (manufacturer and parts manufacturer) if it so warrants. For instance, if you bought the tires separately then naming the manufacturer of the parts alone as the defendant is paramount.
Car Dealer. On one end, the car dealer could also be held liable. The business entity who talked you into it can be named a defendant in your case. Know that the vehicle need not be even yours for you to claim liability. So, even if you’re driving a car of a friend, you can still sue for damages if you think the accident or damage was caused by a defective car.
Used Car Dealer. It doesn’t stop there. You can still claim liability even when your car is bought secondhand. The dealer who sold you the used car may be held liable, too. Of course, this all depends on the specifics of your case.
It’s important to prove that it was indeed the car defect that caused the accident and not driver error. The process may take years. However, fighting it out can be the best thing to do not only for your own good but for everyone who could be in the same position as you.