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Product Liability Claims for a Defective Vehicle

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

If you purchased a car that's defective, you may sue under product liability law. There are two types of product liability claims used for motor vehicle defects.

Suits are usually based on the fact that the vehicle or parts were defectively made (manufactured), or based on an unreasonably dangerous design. Depending on the details of your case, you may file against anyone in the chain of creation or distribution, not just the company that sells the car under its name. Let's take a look at some potential claims you might make associated with a defective vehicle.

Design Defects

Manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. When they fall short, they can be held liable. A design defect is a problem inherent in the product.

Something about how the design is conceived is incorrect or dangerous and, as a result, may lead to the manufacture of an entire line of products that threaten people's safety. Design defects arise earlier in the creation process, during conception, rather than a manufacturing defect, which arises in the creation of the product.

Manufacturing Defects

Although the claims are not mutually exclusive -- a car may have both design and manufacturing defects -- the latter has to do with the making of the vehicle. So, unlike design, a manufacturing defect has to do with the process of creation rather than the conception of the vehicle.

A recent real-life example of a possible manufacturing defect that triggered a recall is a seatbelt that unclasps itself when a driver turns around. Tesla Motors recalled 90,000 Model S cars to ensure that the defect, which was reported by one customer, was not widespread.

What Claims Can You Make?

What precisely you can assert against a car manufacturer and others along the chain of creation and distribution depends on the context of your case. A plaintiff may rely on one or more legal theories to recover, including negligence, tortuous misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and strict liability.

If you have been injured in an accident arising from a defect in your car's manufacture or design, or are otherwise concerned about a defective vehicle, talk to a lawyer about what claims you might make. An attorney will assess your case and give you expert guidance, and it costs nothing to consult.

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