Product Defect Claims in the Car Accident Context

If you've been injured in a car accident due to the fault of another, then you may not only have a right of action for damages against the defendant-driver who contributed to your injuries, but you may also have a right of action against the auto manufacturer of your car - in certain circumstances - if some aspect of your car was defective and contributed to your injuries.

California law allows for multiple different types of "product liability" claims brought on the basis of a defect. These laws can seem quite complicated to those who are unfamiliar with bringing a personal injury action, so let's explore the basics to help provide some clarity to the issues.

How a Product Defect Claim Works

Product defect claims can be split into:

  • Strict liability claims
    • Design defect
    • Manufacturing defect
    • Failure to warn
  • Negligence claims
    • Design defect
    • Manufacturing defect
    • Failure to warn
  • Breach of warranty claims

If you'd like to learn the details, we encourage you to read some of the other articles on our site here. Generally speaking, a product defect claim - regardless of the type that you bring - is an assertion that the product is unreasonably dangerous for its purposes or foreseeable uses (i.e., defective).

For example, if a car is improperly designed and has an extremely high rollover rate on normal turns (at normal speeds for the circumstances), then you might have an actionable claim against the auto manufacturer for defective design, if you are injured in a rollover accident at normal speeds.

Bringing a product defect claim is an excellent strategy for recovering damages in situations where the defendant-driver may not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your damages.

Express and Implied Warranties Can Lead to an Actionable Product Defect Claim

Breach of warranty is a type of product defect cause of action that is commonly asserted in a car accident product liability case. Breach of warranty generally involves an express or implied guarantee of the manufacturer relating to some function of the car. Breach of warranty claims are unique in that the manufacturer can be held liable for damages even if the car would otherwise not be considered defective. Why? The purchaser "relies" on the warranty of the manufacturer.

Let's clear up any confusion with a quick example.

Suppose that you are injured in a collision accident that occurred because your brakes could not bring you to a complete stop in time. Now, the brakes - based on their function - are not defective compared to brakes in the industry. It is a normal "time to stop" in comparison to other manufacturers. However, the manufacturer of your car advertised that the breaks were special and could bring a car to a complete stop (from 60 miles per hour) in less than two seconds. Given this guarantee, you could ostensibly bring a claim against the manufacturer for a breach of the warranty - you relied on the warranty of brake function, and the brakes' failure to function accordingly could expose the manufacturer to significant liability.

Auto Manufacturers Can Be Aggressive and Hostile

As a general rule, auto manufacturers tend to be rather aggressive - and sometimes even hostile - towards product defect plaintiffs. Why? Auto manufacturers realize that if they concede a win (whether through a large settlement or in trial litigation), then other plaintiffs might come forward and litigate similar claims. As such, manufacturers take on a more aggressive posture during a dispute so as to discourage others from coming forward with their own claims. When other plaintiffs are intimidated, this keeps their overall costs down and prevents them from being tied up in "excessive" litigation.

Here at the Law Offices of Brian J. O'Grady, we understand how to keep auto manufacturers on their toes and how to navigate the challenging litigation landscape that they create in the course of a product defect dispute. We have extensive experience litigating claims against such defendants, and are therefore better able to represent the interests of our clients more effectively.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Mountain View Car Accident Attorney

Attorney Brian J. O'Grady has built his legal career on helping others obtain the justice they deserve, whether in car accident litigation or product defect litigation, or any other personal injury dispute. He has a fundamentally client-oriented outlook, and from the beginning of the attorney-client engagement process, he takes the time to understand the circumstances giving rise to the injury, as well as the client's needs and expectations - this close understanding of the client enables him to act decisively when necessary, improving the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

This client-oriented approach has been quite successful over the years. Since the start of his career, Attorney O'Grady has secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients.

Interested in speaking to a qualified attorney about your case?

Call (650) 318-6131 or send us an online message to arrange for a free and confidential consultation with Attorney O'Grady. Initial consultations are "no obligation," so there's no pressure on you to sign on with us to litigate your case - during the free initial consultation, we will evaluate your claims and give you insight into whether your case is actionable, and what you might want to do to secure compensation.

In the event that we move forward together, it's important to note that we work on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that we do not get paid unless you "win" damages through a trial verdict or a settlement payout. Simply put: we don't get paid unless you succeed. This ensures that we're all incentivized to secure a win, and that it's advantageous for us to help you in a timely and efficient manner.