Officials for taxpayer-rescued General Motors recently were found to have ignored defective airbag systems in their new cars and now are facing the largest recall in automotive history. Toyota also had significant recall issues regarding some of its most popular models. Throughout the years, auto manufacturers have been involved in product safety recalls, and that brings up product liability issues. Unlike most manufactured products, autos have the potential to cause a lot of deaths if they become defective. A defective vehicle might cause a chain reaction to an accident on a busy freeway that might take the lives of many innocent people.
Product Liability Holds Manufacturers Liable
When auto manufacturers produce defective products that cause personal injuries and property damage, they ultimately are liable for the costs and not the owners of the vehicles. The manufacturers might deny problems exist, as was the case with the General Motors until just recently, but that often times only creates larger product liability issues afterward. Not only does the federal government have the power to enforce a recall and levy costly fines, but the product liability laws mean individual and class action lawsuits can mean billions of dollars in liability costs.
Infamous Product Liability Cases
Some years ago Ford had a significantly improved car design in the Ford Pinto, but then the money counters decided to remove many significant safety features before going into production, chief among them being a self-sealing fuel tank. As it turned out, the Pinto was subject to catching fire during rear-end collisions when the gas tanks ruptured and spilled fuel onto the incredibly hot exhaust system and its catalytic converter. Ford paid dearly for its design changes and for a period of time faced economic uncertainty before surviving. The manufacturers of Tylenol also faced potential liability issues when someone tampered with the popular over the counter pain medication and people started dying. The company swiftly recalled all products and staved off massive liability issues but still had to compensate victims due to the actions of others.
Have you ever bought a defective product that caused damage or injury?