When a car accident sends someone to the hospital there are always questions. How badly was the person injured? How did the injury happen? Who was responsible? On the surface the answers to these questions may seem pretty straightforward, but when they are being asked by a judge, answering them can become surprisingly complex, especially in a product liability lawsuit .
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that more than 650 safety recalls were filed in 2012, affecting nearly 18 million products. On any given year, recalls are filed for cars with faulty tires, electrical wiring, airbags, seat belts, transmissions, engines, power steering, and other defects that can endanger the safety of a auto-manufacturers customers.
The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, working in coalition with the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance is constantly reviewing data, from consumer complaints to technical service bulletins, to ensure that they are able to investigate and analyze products that may put people on the road at risk. The NHTSA’s investigations alone have resulted in the recall of 22 million vehicles and products in the last three years. “Every day millions of motorists are safe on our nation’s roadways because of the work and dedication of our defect investigation and compliance teams here at NHTSA,” said the U.S. Transportation Secretary. “We have one of the most effective programs in the world and will continue, in 2013, to pursuer investigations and recalls.” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Despite the presence of many regulatory and safety agencies in the United States, they cannot detect all design defects before it is too late. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost our country more than $700 billion annually, and can devastate victims and their families. (U.S. Product Safety Commission)
Courts use two main theories to evaluate the facts surrounding an injury thought to be caused by a faulty product: Products liability, and negligence. Product liability focuses mainly on the product itself, while negligence focuses on the manufacturer or distributor. In a manufacturing defect case, the victim of an accident must bear the burden of proving to the court that the product in question had an inherent fault or defect, and proving how or why that defect eventually caused the injury.
Recently, our lawyers were faced with this very burden of proof in a case against a major American auto manufacturer. We were able to prove that the company in question improperly designed the fuel delivery system in their vehicle, resulting in a fuel-fed fire that killed the occupants of the vehicle.
With 18 million products recalled last year, product liability accidents are more common than you might think. Our attorneys are here to ensure that you wont ever have to deal with the questions that come with them alone.