request a free consultation

Who Is Liable If a Recalled Car or Truck Caused the Accident?

Posted in Car Accidents, Product Liability on February 15, 2021

Most car accidents are preventable and related to human error, such as a driver speeding or driving distracted. Some, however, are connected to defects with the vehicle that a driver has no control over.

Despite safety technologies improving in the automotive industry, 2018 had more light vehicle safety recalls than any other year in US history – 341, according to Stout’s 2019 Automotive Defect & Recall Report. If you get into an accident related to a recalled car or truck, find out who is liable.

Who Is Liable If a Recalled Car or Truck Caused the Accident?

Common Car and Truck Defects

Although many different types of recalled products can cause serious consumer injuries, auto part defects are particularly dangerous. Even a minor auto defect could act as a catalyst for a serious car accident. Common car and truck defects connected to motor vehicle accidents are:

  • Brake failure
  • Sticky gas pedals
  • Tire blowouts
  • Electrical issues
  • Exploding airbags
  • Seat belt malfunctions
  • Seatback failure
  • Problems with the steering column

When a vehicle manufacturer discovers a defect in one of its models, it lawfully must issue a recall. It must also make a reasonable effort to notify buyers of the defect, such as through an ad campaign or direct mail. A recall means the vehicle contains known defects that could be dangerous to consumers. The recall will contain information and safety recommendations for the vehicle’s owner, such as where to take the car for free repairs.

Who Is Responsible?

If a defective vehicle part causes a car or truck accident, an injured party may have a legal claim to damages. Most vehicle defect accidents fall under the category of product liability law. Product liability is a manufacturer or distributor’s legal responsibility for injuries caused by a faulty product. Under Texas’s product liability laws, a manufacturing company may be liable without proof of negligence if the vehicle contained one of three types of defects:

  1. Design flaw
  2. Manufacturing error
  3. Marketing mistake

If the injured party can prove the vehicle contained one of these product defects and that this is what caused the car or truck accident, the manufacturing company will be liable for damages whether or not the company was negligent. Other parties involved with the manufacture and distribution of the vehicle could also bear liability for a crash, such as a retailer, part or component manufacturer, or car dealership.

In a case where the doctrine of strict product liability does not apply, an injured crash victim may still be able to bring a claim based on the theory of negligence. An automaker could be liable based on negligence if it was careless and violated the accepted standards of care for the automotive industry. If the manufacturer knew about a defect but did not disclose it, for example, and this caused a car accident, the manufacturer could be responsible based on negligence.

How Will a Recall Affect a Claim?

Whether or not a recall was in effect at the time of your car or truck accident could affect your right to recover. An automaker may try to refute liability for your accident if you knew or reasonably should have known about the defect due to an ongoing recall.

If the defendant can prove that you received notice by mail of the recall with the company’s recommendation not to drive the car until getting it repaired, for example, this could protect the company from liability for an accident. If, however, your accident occurred before the recall was announced, the company could still be liable.

When to Hire a Product Liability Attorney in Dallas, Texas

A car accident case involving a recalled car or truck with a defect or safety issue can be complex. If you or a loved one was injured in this type of auto accident in Dallas, consult with a vehicle defect attorney for advice. If you have grounds for an injury claim against the manufacturer or another party, your lawyer can help you with the legal process.