Do product liability lawsuits over car defects help the public?

Although products may not always live up to their advertising hype, consumers have a right to expect their products to be safe. When a defective design or faulty part poses a danger, consumers are often the ones who suffer the consequences. That risk is particularly great for motor vehicle defects.

In the case of vehicles whose crashworthiness was inadequate, a victim may have suffered serious injuries. Yet even smaller defects involving seat belts or tires can result in equally serious outcomes if the malfunction happened while an individual was traveling at high speeds. Individuals in this situation should consult with an attorney that focuses on personal injury claims, including car accidents. Personal injury and product liability lawsuits are legal ways to protect a victim's rights, as well as alert other consumers to the potential product defect.

There are two different entities that might respond to such complaint of vehicle defects. One is the vehicle’s manufacturer, which might issue a recall. The other entity is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency. The NHTSA maintains a complaint section on its website, where consumers can report issues with their vehicles that they feel are unsafe. If the NHTSA agrees, it has the authority to require a manufacturer to issue a recall.

Product liability lawsuits serve another important purpose, in addition to putting others on notice. For example, some lawsuits have prompted lawmakers into action, resulting in new regulations. The precedent of large awards made to the plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits also sends a strong message to manufacturers, who might otherwise be tempted to cut corners in a push toward maximizing their output and returns.

Source: Huffington Post, “How Does a Vehicle Get a Recall?” Sam Dillinger, April 7, 2015

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