Defects in the design or manufacturing of an automobile can prove exceptionally hazardous to both the driver and passengers of a vehicle as well as anyone else who may be on the road. Because of the remarkable complexity of most modern automobiles, even a minor defect can have much broader consequences than might be expected. Therefore, the manufacturers of automobiles are held to a considerable level of liability for any defects which may occur in their vehicles.
Like most other forms of civil law, lawsuits brought against the manufacturers of defective automobiles are generally intended to restore damages that those who have suffered injury as a result may have incurred. However, because of the substantial public safety threat that a defective motor vehicle can pose, the manufacturer may also be assessed punitive damages to ensure that no such problems occur in the future.
It is not, however, exclusively the part of the vehicle’s manufacturer to assume liability for every component of the vehicle. Because the actual production of many of the parts which make up a finished car are outsourced to other companies, a vehicular defect may leave the part’s manufacturer, and not the vehicle’s producer, legally liable. Generally speaking, car accident attorneys are capable of determining which party (or parties) should be held accountable for injuries caused by a defective automobile, but for the purposes of this article, a case-based examination of several well-known vehicular defect suits can help to clarify the issue.
Vehicular Defects: A Case-Based Examination
One of the most well-known recent incidents involving a vehicular defect related to vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corporation. Between 2009 and 2011, problems resulting in sudden unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles of a variety of different models came to light. In some instances, this led to the death of the vehicles’ occupants, as well as serious injuries to drivers of nearby vehicles. As a result, Toyota recently reached a settlement of more than $1 billion dollars for damages caused.
While the Toyota cases assigned liability solely to Toyota Motor Corporation, problems associated with the Ford Explorer in the 1990s involved multiple party liability. Both Ford Motor Company, which produced the Explorer, and Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, which manufactured the tires used on the Explorer, have been held liable for the many deaths and injuries that occurred in rollover accidents involving the vehicle throughout the 1990s, jointly and separately.