Car accidents are not always the fault of a driver. Sometimes, a defective vehicle is responsible for causing a collision. As more and more vehicle systems become automated, there are more opportunities for a defective vehicle to cause accidents and injuries. This is especially concerning as self-driving cars hit roads across the United States in greater numbers. But even a system as simple as brakes or airbags can cause life-threatening injuries if the system is defective. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective vehicle, it is important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney about your legal rights.Who is Responsible for a Car Accident Caused by a Defective Vehicle?
When multiple vehicles are involved in a car accident, each driver’s insurance company conducts an investigation to determine who was at fault for causing the accident. Each company comes to its own independent conclusion about how much (if any) fault its driver bears. If a company determines that its driver is not at fault, it will deny injury claims from any victim who claims to have been injured in the accident. If the company accepts a portion of liability, it will pay that same percent of the victim’s financial losses (known as legal damages).
But what if the insurance companies determine that the vehicle itself, and not any driver, was responsible for causing the car accident? In such a case, the injury victims of that accident must seek compensation directly from the manufacturer. Sometimes, a vehicle has a known defect, and the manufacturer has already established a recall for that vehicle. The manufacturer may also have a website or toll-free number for injury victims to use to file their claims. If not, the victim will have to file a claim with the appropriate department. An auto manufacturer may have a legal, claims, or risk management department devoted to addressing bodily injury claims. An attorney can help you file the proper information with the proper department.
If the manufacturer refuses to accept responsibility for the claim, the injury victim might have to file a lawsuit in order to let a jury determine who is at fault. This type of claim is known as a products liability lawsuit. Manufacturers of consumer goods - including automobiles - have a legal obligation to make their products safe for ordinary uses by consumers. If the product is defective, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to compensate any foreseeable injury victim. Section 55-1-11 of the Official Code of Georgia holds manufacturers liable to any person who may “reasonably be affected by” the property sold by the manufacturer. In the case of an automobile, it is foreseeable that a defective car could injure other road users. This is why the manufacturer has an obligation to compensate a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclists, pedestrian, or another road user who has been injured by a defective vehicle. This is also why manufacturers incur the time and expense of a product recall, rather than risking their exposure to products liability lawsuits.What do I Have to Prove in a Products Liability Lawsuit?
A plaintiff must prove several things in order to sustain a products liability lawsuit. First, he or she must prove that the product had a defect at the time of the injury. Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defect caused his or her injuries (or the wrongful death of a loved one). Then it must be proven that the product is in essentially the same condition as when it left the manufacturer’s control. This is to ensure that factors beyond the manufacturer’s control did not contribute to the defect (i.e., aggressive use of the product). Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the product was being used as the manufacturer intended. In the case of a defective vehicle, this means that the vehicle was being used for its identified driving purposes. If, for example, a street vehicle is being used for off-road use that is not recommended by the manufacturer, this could prevent the manufacturer from being held liable. In this example, a passenger or other injury victim might still be able to recover compensation from the driver who negligently used the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
It is also important to understand that products liability claims apply the legal doctrine of strict liability. This means that a jury cannot consider whether the manufacturer was negligent. If the injury occurred as a result of a defect in the product, the manufacturer is held liable for any foreseeable injuries that occur as a result of the defect. This is a plaintiff-friendly rule that is designed to hold manufacturers accountable for producing safe products for consumers to use.Why Sue the Manufacturer?
If your health insurance company or auto insurance company has provided compensation for your medical bills, you wonder why it is necessary to sue the manufacturer of a defective vehicle. Again: products liability laws are designed to hold manufacturers accountable. They make products for innocent consumers to use, so they are responsible for making these products safely. If you have been injured by a defective vehicle, other victims could be injured, as well. A products liability lawsuit alerts the manufacturer to the condition and provides legal (and financial) incentive to fix the problem. This is especially important in the case of a vehicle defect. A manufacturing defect in a vehicle endangers every other person on the roadway. These are among the most dangerous - and even deadly - of all product defects.Knowledge and Experience to Aggressively Pursue Your Car Accident Personal Injury Claim
If you have been injured by a defective vehicle, your claim may be complicated by confusing technical issues. It is important that an insurance company not be allowed to take advantage of such a situation. The Georgia car accident lawyers at Slappey & Sadd can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call (404) 255-6677 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today. We fight hard for accident victims across Georgia and have experience handling all types of auto accident claims. Let our experienced attorneys and professional support staff ensure that your claim is handled properly to help you access the compensation you deserve.