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Can I sue if I was injured by an automobile design defect?

Automobile accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in Texas. Most wrecks are caused by negligent drivers. But in some cases there may be evidence the crash was caused by a defective auto part. In other cases a design defect may not have caused the accident itself, but caused the resulting injuries to be more serious. And in some cases a defectively designed automobile can result in a consumer death in a rollover accident or some other mishap.

Automobile manufacturers have a legal duty to make a product that is reasonably safe for its intended use. When design decisions lead to injury or death, the manufacturer can be held legally responsible in a product liability lawsuit.

To recover in a claim against a negligent manufacturer, the injured party must show that the vehicle or a component part was unreasonably dangerous. The vehicle may be unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect, or because the manufacturer provided insufficient warning of a potential hazard.

The injury must have occurred when the automobile, truck or motorcycle was being used in the manner it was intended to be used. You would probably not be able to recover, for example, if you were using a passenger car in an off-road rally. Finally, the claimant must be able to show that at the time of the injury the vehicle or component was in substantially the same condition as when it left the factory. If the owner substantially modified the vehicle the manufacturer may be able to escape liability.

Automobile design defect cases are complex and generally require the testimony of expert witnesses to prove liability. If you believe you sustained injury due to a defectively designed vehicle, an experienced product liability lawyer can help evaluate your case and outline your options.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Defective Motor Vehicle Lawsuits," accessed Dec. 28, 2014

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