Does an auto recall relieve a plaintiff of the burden of proof?

Our personal injury law firm has represented many clients who where injured due to defective motor vehicles and/or components. Defective ignition systems, tire blowouts, faulty airbags and many other examples have been the subject of recalls issued by various automakers.

In the example of the ignition switch recall issued by General Motors Co., the defect caused some vehicles to power off, resulting in a loss of power steering, the turning off of air bags, the car stalling and a risk of the driver losing control. Yet an auto recall may not be issued in time to prevent all injuries. Consequently, GM has also been defending against individual lawsuits.

A recent example serves as an important reminder that a plaintiff's burden of proof must be met in a civil lawsuit even when an auto recall has been issued. A driver, who claimed a defective GM ignition switch caused him to lose control of his vehicle, brought the case. The driver had hit a guardrail, slipped into the opposite lane and crashed into an oncoming vehicle, killing the other driver. However, GM defended against the allegation by citing driver negligence, claiming the driver had been driving recklessly fast for the slippery, wet road conditions. The jury deliberated only two hours before finding for G.M.

Every plaintiff in a civil case has a burden of proof. In a product liability lawsuit, that burden requires an evidentiary showing of an unreasonably dangerous defect in a product that caused an injury, despite being used in the way the product was intended. Our personal injury law firm never takes any element of building a case for granted. We have the experience to investigate for evidence in support of every element of a case.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “GM Ignition Switch Wasn’t to Blame for Fatal Crash, Texas Jury Says,” Aug. 25, 2016

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