Can product liability and personal injury claims converge?

As we’ve discussed, a personal injury lawsuit generally includes an allegation that the plaintiff’s injuries resulted from another individual’s negligent actions. A products liability lawsuit, in contrast, usually includes a claim against a manufacturer alleging an unsafe or dangerous defect in a product’s design or function.

Although a civil lawsuit does allow a plaintiff to simultaneously allege alternative theories of liability, personal injury and product liability allegations are often separate. Of course, exceptions exist. Today’s story illustrates such a twist.

Specifically, the defendants in several motor vehicle accident lawsuits involving certain models made by General Motors Co. may have been wrongfully imputed with civil and/or criminal liability. In the case of one Chevrolet Cobalt driver, a judge recently overturned the woman’s guilty plea based on the newly discovered evidence of GM’s defective ignition switches. 

To date, GM has recalled around 64 million vehicles in the United States. However, the recall is coming years after many of those vehicles had been in service. Some of the affected cars may have been on the country’s roads and highways for 10 years or more. In the meantime, wrongful outcomes against defendant drivers in personal liability and/or criminal lawsuits may have been entered.

Our law firm focuses on both personal injury and product liability claims. We understand the nuances unique to each area of law, as well as strategies for overcoming procedural issues. For example, the statute of limitations in bringing a product liability claim is based on one year from the time the injury is or should have been discovered. Our firm's website describes these practice areas in greater detail.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Drivers Convicted, Jailed for Crashes Now Blamed on Car Defects,” Margaret Cronin Fisk and Jeff Green, Sept. 2, 2015

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