Large automakers regularly recall cars and other motor vehicles for defects that endanger the safety of users of the recalled cars as well as others on our roads and highways. In many cases, cars are recalled for defective airbags or other safety features required by law.
On July 8, 2014, for example, Honda expanded an earlier recall to 1,000,000 cars for defective airbags manufactured by Takata. The airbags were reportedly discovered to sometimes deploy with too great a force and release shrapnel that can seriously injure or kill a vehicle’s occupants.
Who is responsible for injuries or deaths caused by defective airbags or other vehicle safety features? Depending upon the laws of the particular state in which an accident occurs, several defendants may be found liable for such injuries or deaths.
The Killino Firm’s injury lawyers, personal-injury lawyers, car-accident lawyers, auto-accident lawyers, truck-accident lawyers, motorcycle-accident lawyers, brain-injury lawyers, and wrongful-death lawyers have extensive experience with car, truck, and other vehicle accidents, including those involving injuries or deaths caused by defects in a vehicle or one of its components. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car, truck, or other vehicle accident, contact the Killino Firm for expert and experienced assistance with your case.
Legal Liability for Injuries Caused by Defective Airbags or Other Defective Vehicle Components
Are car manufacturers required by law to include properly operating safety features in the cars and other motor vehicles they release to the public? When a plaintiff is injured in a car, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle accident and the plaintiff’s injuries are either caused or made worse by a defect in one of the vehicles involved in the accident, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages for his or her injuries through the institution of a product liability action against the vehicle manufacturer and others involved in the design, manufacture, and distribution of the vehicle or its components. A wrongful death action may be brought against the same defendants by the survivors of a person who has been killed in such an accident if the defect in the car or other vehicle is determined to have been a cause of the decedent’s death.
Though the law of products liability differs from state to state, most states’ laws impose a duty upon the manufacturers and designers of cars and other motor vehicles to create vehicles that are “crashworthy.” The incorporation of certain safety features required by law (such as airbags or seatbelts that work properly) is among the requirements that must be fulfilled to render a vehicle crashworthy.
The crashworthiness requirement is based upon the law’s recognition that the use of a motor vehicle may result in crashes that could injure or kill a vehicle’s occupants. Knowing that such crashes may occur, a manufacturer has the duty to protect a vehicle’s occupants from injuries or deaths that may result from these vehicle accidents to the extent reasonably possible.
When a vehicle contains a defective airbag, seatbelt, or other safety component and the vehicle is involved in a crash, the manufacturer of the car or other vehicle (and others) may be held liable for injuries sustained by a plaintiff in the accident even though the defect was not a cause of the accident, itself. If a plaintiff can establish that a defect in an airbag or other safety feature either made a plaintiff’s injuries worse or caused an injury or death that would have been prevented if the safety component had not been defective, the manufacturer as well as others in the chain of the vehicle’s distribution may be held liable for such injuries or death.
Liability of Manufacturer and Designer of Defective Component
When a defective safety or other vehicle component is found to have been a cause of injuries or deaths sustained in a vehicle accident, the manufacturer and designer of the defective component, as well as the manufacturer and designer of the vehicle as a whole, may be held liable for such injuries or deaths. Thus, in the case of the Honda recalls discussed above, both Honda and Takata may be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by the defective airbags installed in Honda vehicles.
Proof Required by Plaintiff
In an action to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of a defect in a car or other motor vehicle safety component, the plaintiff need only prove that it was more likely than not that the defect in question was a cause of his or her injuries or that it resulted in an increase in such injuries. The causation element of such actions may be extremely complex and require expert testimony regarding a plaintiff’s injuries as well as the likelihood that those injuries would have been prevented or lessened if the defective vehicle safety component had been safely designed or manufactured.
Liability for Wrongful Death
Defective safety features installed in cars and other motor vehicles often cause deaths as well as serious injuries. If a driver or passenger of a car or other vehicle sustains fatal injuries in a crash, the manufacturer and others in the chain of the vehicle’s distribution may be found liable, in a wrongful death action, for the damages suffered by the decedent’s survivors as a result of their family member’s death, if the safety feature defect is determined to have been a cause of the decedent’s death.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car or other vehicle accident as a result of a defective vehicle safety feature or other vehicle component, the Killino Firm’s highly-experienced team of injury attorneys, personal-injury attorneys, car-accident attorneys, auto-accident attorneys, truck-accident attorneys, motorcycle-accident attorneys, brain-injury attorneys, and wrongful-death attorneys can help you obtain the compensation and justice to which you are entitled from those responsible for your injuries or a loved one’s death.