When Is a Car Manufacturer Liable for an Accident?

Every time we get into a vehicle, we expect it to be safe to drive or ride in. We know there is the possibility of being injured in a car accident, but we rarely think that a defect in some part of the car will cause it.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and you suspect it was caused by something wrong with the car itself, I may be able to help.

I represent clients and their families in product liability claims arising from defective products in Houston, Webster, South Houston, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, and Santa Fe, Texas. Call my firm, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, today to schedule a consultation. 

What Kind of Defects Can Lead to an Accident or Injury?

Cars comprise a complex combination of parts and systems. Some of the common car defects that could lead to injury or death include:

  • Airbags that deploy incorrectly or not at all
  • Faulty electrical wiring that causes engine failure or fire
  • Defective tires that rupture or fail
  • Seats that malfunction on impact
  • Seat belts and shoulder harnesses that fail
  • Defective steering that fails or malfunctions
  • Tether anchors for child safety seats fail
  • A faulty computer that accelerates or decelerates on its own
  • Defective brakes
  • Structures that fail in rollover accidents

When Can a Car Manufacturer Be Held Liable?

Texas product liability law observes strict liability. What that means is that a manufacturer can be held responsible so long as you can prove the product was faulty. You do not need to prove the manufacturer was somehow negligent, only that its product led to injury or death.

What Are the Types of Defects in Texas?

There are three types of defects for which you can hold a manufacturer accountable under Texas law:

  1. Manufacturing defects are those that randomly fail. In other words, not every unit of the part is faulty but through a quality control issue, the part on your vehicle failed. For example, a tire that was not properly manufactured was also not culled as part of the quality control process.
  2. Design defects are those that cause harm even if they are manufactured properly. The threat is inherent in the design itself, such as in a steering system that fails while traveling at high speed.
  3. Failure to warn is somewhat self-explanatory. The manufacturer failed to warn the user of potential dangers or to instruct them in its proper use. One example could be the manufacturer’s failure to warn that shoulder harnesses could only withstand stress upon the impact of a person weighing under a certain number of pounds.

How Do You Prove Liability?

Although you do not need to prove that a manufacturer was negligent, proof of liability is a high standard. A personal injury attorney experienced with litigating product liability claims can help you meet the standard of proof for the type of claim you assert.

Keep in mind that manufacturers risk substantial money in losing a product liability case. As such, they will spend significant resources defending themselves against claims.

In manufacturing defect cases, you must present strong evidence that the product was, indeed, defective. This can be a challenge if the product is heavily damaged or destroyed in the accident.

In design defect cases, you must provide compelling evidence that a defective design, and not anything else, caused the accident. You must prove that another design could have been used without compromising its utility or profitability while using standard technology.

In failure to warn cases, you must prove that the danger could not be anticipated by a reasonable user; therefore, the manufacturer should have provided a warning.

Personal Injury Experience You Can Rely On

Product liability claims are among the most challenging to prove. However, that does not mean manufacturers should not be held responsible for the harm they cause when they manufacture defective and dangerous products.

If you live in or around Houston, Webster, South Houston, or Pasadena, Texas, my law firm, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, can help you rise to the challenge of holding them accountable. Let’s get started. Call my office now.


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