CURCIO BLOG

Vehicle manufacturer held liable for cars’ dangerous defect

Illinois consumers purchasing new cars expect to take ownership of a vehicle that has passed safety tests and is free from defects. When a car’s design has a flaw that causes injuries or deaths, a legal action may help recover from damages. 

Before manufacturing cars and making them available for sale, engineers invest time in designing and testing them. If testing shows any part of a vehicle’s system malfunctions or fails, engineers generally redesign and test them again until they correct the flaws. Once a car enters its production phase, engineers should have corrected any defects. 

A company owes a duty to warn 

When a potentially dangerous defect becomes part of a car’s design, a manufacturer owes a duty of care to warn vehicle owners and users. A visible warning, such as a metal plate or sticker, must show the location of the hazardous part. An operating manual should also provide instructions regarding how to use the car correctly to avoid any issues. 

By failing to provide adequate notification, a manufacturer has breached its duty to warn. A company may then face a lawsuit for damages when the design of the vehicle model includes an unreasonably dangerous defect. 

Vehicle manufacturer settles lawsuit 

One of the nation’s largest automobile manufacturers settled a legal action over a defective ignition switch. The settlement totaled $120 million. The defect caused 275 injuries and 124 deaths. It also caused the car’s residual value to plummet. As reported by Car and Driver Magazine, the manufacturer admitted that the vehicle’s ignition switch caused vehicles to stall. 

The company’s admission revealed it was aware of the manufacturing defect and failed to correct it or warn vehicle owners of its risks. The manufacturer recalled nearly three million cars and had to pay for the deaths, injuries and repairs caused by the defect. 

An unreasonably dangerous product issue, such as a car with a potentially harmful manufacturing or design defect, does not require proving fault. Motorists or their surviving families may hold a vehicle’s manufacturer strictly liable for any injuries or deaths. 

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