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Auto Products Liability

Motor vehicle crashes and accidents that occur due to a defect in a car, SUV, truck, motorcycle, or another motor vehicle can result in severe and devastating injuries, other damages, and even death.  

If you have been involved in an accident because a vehicle or a vehicle part was defective, and you sustained injuries or property damages as a result of the accident, it is possible that you may have a viable products liability claim. Call our auto products liability lawyers at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.

In other words, unlike car accidents that are caused by driver error or negligence, if you have been injured because of a defective automobile product or vehicle part, you may also be able to file a products liability suit against the seller, retailer, and/or manufacturer of the defective product or part.  However, products liability claims can be complex and time-consuming, thus, consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer should be one of the first steps you take so that you can obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages.

In this article:

Products Liability Lawsuits in General

To be successful in your products liability claim, you must first meet certain factors.  The claimant in a successful products liability lawsuit must be able to establish that:

  • The product or part at issue was unreasonably hazardous.
  • The claimant was injured.
  • The defect in the product or part was the cause of the claimant’s injury.

If you have been injured as the result of a defect in a product or part, be sure to retain any and all documents related to the accident and injury, including manuals, photographs, and medical records and bills.

It is important to note that if you have been injured in California, under the law, you do not necessarily have to establish that a seller’s, retailer’s, or manufacturer’s negligence, or their failure to ensure that a product was safe, caused your injury.  Rather, you only need to prove that your injury or damages were caused by a defect in the product.  This is also known as the strict liability rule in California.  While a consumer may also pursue a general negligence claim against a defendant, it is usually a lot more difficult to prove that the seller, retailer, or manufacturer breached their duty to ensure that the product was safe for consumers.

Other products liability theories include breach of express or implied warranties.  Warranties typically assure that a product is of sound quality and/or will work when reasonably used.  Accordingly, for example, if a product fails to work the way a manufacturer warrants the product to work, and someone is injured as a result of the defect, the manufacturer may be liable for a breach of that warranty.

While the strict liability rule may make filing a products liability lawsuit easier or convenient for some California claimants, it is still important that you consult with an experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer to discuss your options and determine which theories of liability may be the most appropriate and effective for your case.

Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawsuits

Some examples of the most common motor vehicle product or part defects that are often the subject of personal injury and products liability claims include:

  • Car tires that are susceptible to major blowouts
  • SUVs that are designed in such a way that they are more prone to rollovers
  • All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs that are designed in such a way that they are more prone to rollovers;
  • Fuel system failures that may result in a vehicle bursting into flames
  • Door failures, where an occupant is thrown from the vehicle
  • Defective seat belts that fail to properly restrain passengers
  • Defective child and infant car seats that fail to properly restrain their occupants
  • Defective accelerator pedals, such as those that get stuck and prevent the vehicle from slowing down
  • Defective airbags, such as airbags that fail to inflate resulting in serious neck or head injuries
  • Defective brakes
  • Inadequate side-impact protection
  • Vehicle roofs that are not strong enough to keep passengers safe in the event the vehicle is in a rollover accident
Types of  Auto Products Liability Lawsuits

Generally, there are two types of products liability lawsuits involving motor vehicles: (1) defective manufacturing of motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts; and (2) motor vehicles that have an unreasonably dangerous design.

In the first type of claim involving defective motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts, the claimant usually is alleging that a product was improperly manufactured.  In these instances, the manufacturing defect could be because of the way the vehicle or part was made at the factory, or whether the product was damaged somewhere between leaving the factory and entering the hands of the consumer/claimant.

The second type of claim involves vehicles or vehicle parts that may have been manufactured properly, but the design of the vehicle or vehicle part is what causes injuries and/or other damages.

These manufacturing and design defects oftentimes lead to vehicle recalls.  Accordingly, it is important to stay informed regarding such recalls and defective vehicle/part investigations.  In some instances, if a number of people have been injured by a defect, a class action involving the defect may already be initiated by those injured.  If this is the case, you may be able to join a class action if you have sustained injuries as a result of the same defect as those in the class.  While you do not necessarily have to join the class to obtain compensation for your injuries, and you can instead pursue your own lawsuit, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer to determine the options that best fit the circumstances of your case.

What You Need to Prove in an Auto Products Claim

Regardless of the type of claim involved, the success of your case boils down to whether you can prove that:

  • You suffered injuries or other damages
  • The motor vehicle or vehicle part at issue in your case was manufactured with a defect or had a dangerous design
  • The defect or design was the actual cause of your injuries or other damages, rather than poor driving on your part
Complications Involved in an Auto Products Liability Case

One of the first problems you might run into when filing an auto products liability claim is the problem of identifying all potential defendants, or those liable for your injuries.  An experienced and seasoned Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer can help you identify those defendants that may be responsible for your injuries and other damages.  These defendants can include the vehicle manufacturer, the manufacturer of a defective part in the vehicle, the car dealership or auto shop where you bought the vehicle or part, or even those that shipped the part to a dealership or retailer.  Moreover, if you were involved in an accident with another driver and either your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle was defective, you not only may have a products liability claim, but you may also have a viable personal injury claim against the other driver for driving negligently.

Possible Damages Available from a Defective Auto Part Accident

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a defective motor vehicle or vehicle part in the Sacramento area, whether you were the driver, passenger, occupant in another vehicle involved in an accident with a defective vehicle, or even a pedestrian who was injured in the accident, one of the most important questions on your mind might be what kind of compensation or damages will I be entitled to?

A knowledgeable and seasoned Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer can advise you as to whether you have a viable claim and help you determine whether there is relief available for your injuries and/or damages.  It does not matter whether the accident caused serious or even minor injuries; having a dedicated attorney by your side can help alleviate some of the pressure and anxiety one feels when dealing with insurance companies and filing lawsuits after an accident.  An experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer can review the evidence and facts in your case, advise you of your options, and help determine the best strategy for obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled.

If you have been injured as the result of a defective vehicle or vehicle part, you may be entitled to damages, or compensation, for those injuries or other losses.  Upon a successful products liability claim, it may be possible to obtain:

  • Medical expenses, including doctor’s bills, therapist bills, and pharmacy costs, no matter whether they are past, present, or future expenses
  • Loss of wages, profits, or reduction in earning capacity, in the event that you missed work because of your injury, or may not be able to return to work
  • Disability costs, such as those expenses that may be incurred if you have to hire someone to help you because of a permanent disability, or if you have to renovate you home to accommodate your disability
  • Property damages
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress, such as depression, anxiety, grief, etc.
  • Quality of life issues
  • Loss of companionship
  • In some situations, punitive damages may also be available

It is important to note that if you are injured in a defective vehicle accident, time is of the essence.  In order to recover automotive products liability compensation, you must file a defective car lawsuit within two years of the motor vehicle accident or two years from when the injury is or should have been discovered. Otherwise, you may lose the right to sue for personal injury damages.

The Dangers of Defective Auto Products

So many Americans' lives are changed forever for the worse when they or their loved ones are seriously injured, disfigured, or even killed every year as the result of motor vehicle accidents.  Unfortunately, a number of these accidents are due to motor vehicles that have dangerous design defects, or serious manufacturing defects.

These accidents can lead to broken bones, permanent disabilities, and in the worst-case scenario, the accident may be fatal.  Fortunately, under California law, vehicle manufacturers, car dealers, and even vehicle parts retailers and carriers can be held strictly liable for any defects that end up causing injuries.  However, as mentioned in the foregoing, cases involving motor vehicle defects are often highly technical and usually very complex, so it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.

Contact An Experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident due to a motor vehicle defect or vehicle part defect, consulting with a seasoned and experienced Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer should be one of the first steps you take after the accident.  A lawyer who has the experience in dealing with insurance companies and complexities involved in automotive products liability cases can review the facts and evidence in your case, advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities, and help you determine your best options for moving forward with a defective vehicle lawsuit.  Dealing with the aftermath of a devastating accident is not something you should have to do alone.  Having a dedicated injury attorney who is well-versed in auto products liability laws can help ensure you receive the full and fair financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses incurred.

Auto Products Liability Attorneys in Sacramento County

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Auto Products Liability Lawyer. If you or a family member has been seriously hurt in an accident involving a defective motor vehicle or defective motor vehicle part, please call me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo and our past verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 8.11.20]

Photo by Tory Bishop on Unsplash

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