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In an accident, the product, not the person, may be to blame

If you take a quick look at our last post, you will quickly pick up our reference to human error being the cause of most motor vehicle accidents. A closer look, though, will tell you that the post is not about human error, or even the potential for human error. The focus is on the safety of the driverless cars.

The fact is that people are injured or die in accidents that are caused by a mechanical failure or a design flaw of the vehicle itself. Last month, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Honda confirmed that an eighth death had been attributed to a faulty Takata airbag. For some people, that may look like a low number; after all, carmakers recalled 30 million affected vehicles. But for the families and communities of those eight people, each death has been catastrophic.

According to the United States Courts’ website, more than 44,000 product liability cases were filed in 2012. Some of the cases involved personal injury (motor vehicle, airplane, marine, etc.), while others involved property damage, contract actions and torts to land. Product liability cases take many forms and affect an unacceptable number of people throughout the country each year. The statistics make it imperative that anyone who has been injured or who has experienced other hardships due to a defective product stand up for their rights and take action as soon as possible.

The Legal Information Institute, a group associated with the Cornell University Law School, provides a helpful overview of product liability on their website. When consumers are hurt by a defective product, some of them decide to take legal action to secure the compensation they deserve. In a product liability case, a manufacturer or assembler may be liable, but so may wholesalers and the owners of retail stores.

Each of these companies has a responsibility to ensure that no one is hurt by the products they make or sell. From design to checkout counter, these companies have made a promise to consumers that the product is safe. When someone is hurt and the product is at fault, that promise has been broken.

Takata Corp. will replace the defective airbags. How will they make those eight families whole again?

Source: United States Courts, “Table 4.5—U.S. District Courts–Civil Judicial Facts and Figures,” Sept. 30, 2012

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