Driver negligence is not the only cause of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 2% of car accidents involve a defective car. These are product liability cases. Product liability is a claim against a commercial seller of a defective product that causes an injury.
Almost any product can cause injuries, but a seller is only at fault when the product is somehow defective. If a defective component of the other driver’s car contributed to your accident, the seller of that car may owe you compensation.
Legal Categories of Product Defects
Tire blowouts, brake failure, unintended acceleration, and other component failures may be the result of a defect and not simply wear and tear. Generally, the defect is either a manufacturing defect or a design defect.
Manufacturing Defect – the component was not manufactured to specifications and the difference is unreasonably dangerous.
Design Defect – the component was manufactured to specifications, but is still unreasonably dangerous.
The distinction matters because it determines what your case must prove. For a manufacturing defect, you must prove the defect was dangerous beyond an ordinary consumer’s expectation. For a design defect, you must show a less dangerous modification or alternative was economically feasible.
Building a Defective Car Claim
Product defect claims have additional differences from ordinary cases of driver negligence. Building a successful claim will also require proving the following elements:
The seller was a commercial supplier
The defect existed when the product left the manufacturer’s possession
A consumer used the product in a manner that was reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer
The defect was the cause of an actual injury
You may notice you do not have to prove the seller’s negligence in making the defective product. Nevada state law holds manufacturers strictly liable for injuries caused by product defects. No matter how much the seller researched and tested the product, simply introducing a defect into the market puts the seller at fault.
The Seller’s Responsibility to You
It’s obvious you can sue your own car’s manufacturer if a defect caused your injury. Buying the car established a commercial relationship between you and the manufacturer. This is also known as “privity.” But if you were injured by another driver’s car, you do not have a commercial relationship. So how can the other driver’s car manufacturer be liable for your injuries?
Under modern product liability law, privity is not required. The protection of product liability law extends to foreseeable bystanders, which includes other drivers sharing the road with the defective car.
That also means any party along the chain of distribution can be held liable. You can pursue your claim against the car’s manufacturer, distributor, or retailer. However, the defect had to exist while the car was still in their possession.
The Legal Effect of a Recall
Let’s say in addition to a product defect, there was also a recall order for the car. This may legally affect your options for recovery.
Generally, a recall shifts the responsibility of removing the car from the road onto the owner of the car. Their portion of fault can depend on how long they continued to operate the defective car. If a driver knew of the defect and the recall, yet continued to drive the car, the seller’s portion of fault in the accident is likely reduced.
However, a recall is not a perfect defense. A broadly issued recall may not be enough without successful efforts to notify the driver of the defect. Cases that continue to hold commercial suppliers at fault may demonstrate a failure on their part to:
Directly notify the owner of the defective car about the recall
Adequately describe the danger of continuing to operate the defective car
Provide the owner with a practical alternative to continuing to operate the defective car
Take Your Claim to Sam & Ash to Make it Right
Product defects are more challenging to prove than ordinary driver negligence. You must identify the defect, trace its production history, and reference specialized laws and regulations. Car manufacturers have their own lawyers defending their bottom lines. Hire your own team to make them treat you fairly.
The Sam & Ash reputation is built on results. Hiring us sends a clear message: we won’t settle for less than What’s Right. Call us today at 1 (800) 304-2000 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours to become your injury lawyer.