A Philadelphia jury recently returned a verdict of $15 million in an automobile products liability case against Central City Toyota. The lawsuit alleged that the plaintiff, a physician, was injured when the ball joint of a rented vehicle she was driving failed, causing the vehicle to roll over and fall down a ravine.
Defects in automobiles or automotive parts can manifest themselves in many ways, such as tires that are susceptible to blowouts, SUVs that are prone to rolling over, and defective parts like the ball joint in the case above giving way and causing a crash. In a products liability claim, the plaintiff needs to prove that the vehicle or one of its parts contained a defect that created an unreasonable risk of danger when the vehicle was used for its intended purpose and that this defect was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Automobile products liability cases can include claims of:
Defective manufacture. An automobile or its parts can be manufactured in a defective manner. This means that some type of error occurred in the manufacturing process, resulting in a dangerous and defective product.
Dangerous design. In these types of claims, the vehicle or one of its parts has a dangerous design, even though it was manufactured properly. SUVs that are prone to roll over and the Ford Pinto gas tank cases are examples of dangerous design claims.
Failure to warn. In these types of claims, the manufacturer fails to warn the purchaser or user of some danger that is inherent in the operation and use of the vehicle.
All of the companies involved in the chain of distribution of the automobile or the defective part can be liable. This includes the manufacturer of the vehicle, the manufacturers of the component parts, the dealership or automotive shop that sold the vehicle or part, and even middlemen and shippers.