With so many cars on the road, accidents are bound to happen. Bad weather, drunk drivers, and drivers texting behind the wheel of a car are only a few of the reasons why accidents happen so frequently.
With so much beyond a driver’s control, many consumers now look to buy the safest car they can find. They consult car magazines and the internet for crash-test safety reviews, and they ask their local mechanic for recommendations based on performance, reliability, and, perhaps more than ever, safety.
Over the years, cars have become safer in many ways. After all, it was not very long ago that cars were not equipped with airbags, and some of those cars are still on the road today. To test for safety, car companies and trade groups conduct crash tests, and the results are often published.
But even if a driver makes safety his or her highest priority when buying a car, no car is perfect. When an accident happens, even the safest car on the market does not protect against every injury. Sometimes it is driver error, sometimes it is slippery weather conditions, and sometimes, despite all of the crash tests done before a car becomes available for purchase, it is still the car manufacturer’s fault.
Since the risk of serious injury is so high with car accidents, car manufacturers are held to a very high standard when designing and manufacturing a vehicle. If an auto part is defective when it leaves the control of the manufacturer, and this defect ultimately causes an accident on the road, the manufacturer is liable for any injuries that result from the accident. This includes injuries to the person driving the car, the drivers of any other cars involved in the accident, and any injured passengers or pedestrians.
In Illinois, the higher standard to which car manufacturers are held is called strict liability. Strict liability differs from general negligence in that an injured person does not have to prove in court that the car manufacturer failed to use reasonable care when designing or manufacturing a car. In short, the injured party does not have to prove fault in order to prevail.
In contrast to strict liability cases, when a person is injured in a car accident and a defective part is not involved, in most cases the law requires that an injured party prove that the defendant did not act with reasonable care while behind the wheel. Importantly, this is the fault requirement that is not present in accidents involving defective automobile parts.
By eliminating the fault requirement, strict liability makes it easier to prevail in court against a car manufacturer for allowing a defective product to enter the marketplace. This benefits both the injured party and society as a whole. Fearful of large payouts for injuries caused by defective parts, car manufacturers have an incentive to produce safer cars.
In Illinois, a person injured as a result of a defective automobile part can collect compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Furthermore, Illinois does not cap, or limit, the amount of damages for pain and suffering that an injured party may receive.
To help the federal government keep track of possible auto defects not identified during the testing process, car manufacturers are required to routinely provide the government with data about deaths, injuries, consumer complaints, and warranty claims involving each of their vehicles. According to one news source, the government recently fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $70 million for failing to report this safety data since 2003. Earlier in 2015, Fiat Chrysler was also fined $105 million for mishandling the recalls of 11 million vehicles. Fiat Chrysler is not contesting the most recent fine and promised to comply with all data submission requirements in the future.
Have You Been Injured Because of an Unsafe Vehicle?
Most drivers assume that when an accident occurs, driver error is to blame. However, sometimes a driver does everything right, but his or her car was simply unsafe because of a defective part. If you have been injured in a car accident, and your car or any of the other automobiles involved in the accident was subject to a recall, you may be entitled to compensation from the company that designed and manufactured the car. Even if your car has never been the subject of a recall, and you believe that your injuries are the result of something that malfunctioned in the vehicle, you may be able to recover damages. The lawyers at Moll Law Group have a proven track record handling product liability cases, including when automobile manufacturers are involved. We believe that we have made the roads safer by holding car manufacturers accountable for their carelessness, and we have helped many accident victims become whole again during the process. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.
See More Posts:
Child Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.
Public Schools Enjoy Some Level of Immunity for Injuries to Students, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 16, 2015.
Emergency Room Errors May Amount to Medical Malpractice, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 7, 2015.