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Holding auto manufacturers, distributors, retailers liable for their role in auto accidents

This is the fifth post in a series dealing with the topic of third party lawsuits in motor vehicle accident cases, by which we mean liability for parties who were not directly involved in the accident. Last time, we looked at truck accident cases and the possibility of vicarious liability for failure to properly supervise trucking employees to ensure compliance with federal and state safety rules.

Another possibility for pursuing third party liability in motor vehicle accident cases arises when product defects contribute to the accident. When an accident is caused by vehicle defects or malfunctions, or a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to seek compensation from responsible parties, including manufacturers, distributors and sellers. 

There are several legal theories upon which product liability cases may be based. With negligence claims, an accident victim sues a manufacturer or retailer for failure to exercise reasonable care in the design or manufacture of the motor vehicle. Distributors and retailers may also be sued for failure to take reasonable care in the inspection of the vehicle or failure to provide the purchaser adequate warnings or instructions about the product. Product liability cases based on strict liability do not require proof of fault, but do require proof that the manufacturer caused the victim’s injury. Product liability cases may also be based on breach of warranty claims.

Product liability cases in the automotive industry seem to be always coming up. At present, General Motors is facing litigation over faulty ignition switches that required the recall of around 2.6 million cars and caused multiple deaths and injuries. In such cases, manufacturers and those involved in the distribution and sale of unsafe automobiles need to be held accountable to the victims of their negligence.

Source: Business Insider, “GM cites progress in ignition-switch case settlement talks,” Jessica Dye, April 20, 2016. 

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