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Is the Vehicle Manufacturer Ever to Blame for a Crash?

car lifted up in a garage for maintenance

How Third Parties Affect Liability

The University of Florida's Signal 4 Analytics program reported that 697,579 crashes occurred throughout the state in 2021. Among these, over 16,800 serious injuries and 3,600 fatalities took place. While there is no exact way to pinpoint the factors contributing to each of these crashes, the question of liability is apparent.

Although most crashes are the responsibility of one or more drivers, there is a grey area where a third party could assume some liability. When the most significant contributing factor to a collision is a mechanical failure or maintenance issue, who do you hold accountable? Read on to learn more.

When is the Manufacturer to Blame?

Under Florida's comparative fault statute, individuals involved in a collision can hold a manufacturer liable under the “products liability action” clause. However, in doing so, the claimant must be able to prove that the injuries sustained in the crash were more affected by the defective product than they would have been if that had not been a factor.

In many instances, this will result in both the vehicle or parts manufacturer and the “at fault” driver sharing a percentage of fault. Since the driver's action ultimately influences the car, for product liability claims, the law outlines that “injuries received by a claimant in an action were enhanced by a defective product,” not caused. As such, the court will likely award a percentage of fault to multiple parties based on the evidence presented.

Product Recalls

When you register a vehicle, it is the responsibility of that car's manufacturer to alert you by mail if there is a recall. In doing so, they will provide guidance on what to do to ensure your safety in the meantime and how you can remedy the issue at no cost. This regulation is strictly enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and must be upheld.

However, just because a part or the entire vehicle is recalled does not automatically mean that the manufacturer will be found liable in your case. Your attorney will still need to prove that the elements of negligence were present and that this defective part contributed to the collision.

Mechanics and Car Dealers May Also Be Held Liable

Vehicle owners have a reasonable expectation that taking their car into the shop for routine maintenance will cause it to work better, not worse. On the other hand, for recalls, the solution is often to take the vehicle to an authorized dealer who will remedy the issue at no cost. But what if this routine maintenance or fix contributes to another part's malfunction or more significant mechanical error and increases the risk of a crash?

Similar to what was mentioned previously, your attorney will have to prove that the mechanic/dealer was either negligent in repairing the issue or caused another to occur. This will often look like expert testimonies, reviewing evidence of what was done to your vehicle, and having it looked at by another repair shop.

Motor Vehicle Accident? Politis & Matovina, P.A. is Here For You.

Because Florida utilizes a comparative fault doctrine, it is imperative to understand which parties may be held liable for your injuries when pursuing a personal injury claim. Should it be discovered that mechanical issues had a significant effect on your collision, the appropriate parties should be held accountable.

When you need legal representation for a car accident injury, our Daytona Beach personal injury attorneys are here to help you pursue justice. With over $200 million recovered for clients since 1993, our dedicated team understands the claims process and is prepared to take on big corporations if needed.

Schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling (386) 333-6613 or filling out this short form.