A low-level employee identifies a potential safety issue in one of his or her employer’s products. The employer, a major multi-national corporation, fails to adequately address the issue and allows millions of defective products to hit the market. These defective products lead to numerous fatalities. The corporation engages in a decade-long cover up. When the cover up is exposed, the corporation faces historic government sanctions and thousands of lawsuits.
No, this isn’t the beginning of a crime novel. This is a description of a very real case involving a major vehicle manufacturer and its defective cars. While this is an extreme example, the fact remains that vehicle defects cause numerous serious and fatal accidents every year. When a manufacturer sells a defective vehicle, it can – and should – be held liable for its actions.
What is a “Defect?”
As a preliminary matter, it is important to qualify what we mean when we talk about vehicle defects. Under Texas law, a “defect” can be either:
• A design defect, where an error or omission in the design or engineering of a device or one of its component parts makes it unsafe for its intended use
• A manufacturing defect, where a flaw in the manufacturing process renders a device or component part unsafe
• An inadequate warning label or failure to provide proper instructions, where a known risk or safe handling instructions are not adequately disclosed to the vehicle purchaser
Common Vehicle Defects
When it comes to vehicles, there are any number of parts and components that can be defective. Over the years, we have seen cases involving defects in:
• Electrical components
• Fuel systems
• Ignition switches
• Seat belts
• Steering systems
These and other defects can lead to car accidents that may result in serious injuries or death for occupants of the defective vehicle, pedestrians and other drivers on the road.
Recent Recalls and Auto Manufacturer Liability
A couple of recent cases involving major vehicle manufacturers demonstrate just how catastrophic the effects of one defect can be.
• The General Motors Recall – The fact pattern at the start of this article summarizes a recent case involving General Motors. Over the better part of a decade, GM sold millions of cars with faulty ignition switches and defective airbags. These defects led to thousands of injuries and have been linked to at least 51 deaths.
• The Toyota and Nissan Recalls – Toyota and Nissan have recently recalled 6.5 million vehicles worldwide in response to reports of exploding airbags leading to several deaths. So far in 2015, Toyota has recalled over 600,000 vehicles in the United States alone over concerns linked to the defective airbags.
As you can see, vehicle defects are very real concerns. Auto manufacturers and parts suppliers regularly issue recalls for vehicles and components – often after it is too late. If you have been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Consult a Houston Injury Lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
If you have been involved in a vehicle collision, we strongly recommend that you consult with a personal injury lawyer about your case. While your case may seem fairly straightforward, an experienced attorney will be able to examine it from all angles and identify potential sources of compensation for your losses. If your vehicle or another driver’s vehicle was defective, you may have a claim against the motor company.
To receive a free case evaluation, call (800) 489-2216 or contact Houston-based Morrow & Sheppard LLP today.