Alabama Automobile Injury Law: Crashworthiness Claims
Summary: Not all Alabama automobile accident litigation focuses on the conduct of drivers. Vehicle defect litigation focuses on the conduct of a vehicle's manufacturer, with little regard to a driver's conduct. This article provides a survey of Alabama vehicle defect law, also known as crashworthiness law.
A substantial amount of Alabama car accident litigation involves the typical two-car wreck. Such litigation usually focuses on which of the two drivers is at fault and liable for the other driver’s damages. However, much motor vehicle litigation focuses on a less familiar concept—the “crashworthiness” of an automobile. Essentially, “crashworthiness” is a legal term meaning a vehicle’s ability to protect drivers and passengers in the event of a collision. Thus, automobile crashworthiness litigation primarily focuses on the vehicle manufacturer’s conduct, not the determination of which driver caused the collision. Depending on the circumstances of the lawsuit, determining the cause of a wreck may be irrelevant for purposes of a crashworthiness claim.
Unlike typical automobile liability cases, crashworthiness litigation often requires extensive expert research and complex scientific data. Furthermore, individuals injured by vehicle defects often suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. Thus, crashworthiness claims may lead to large settlements or jury verdicts.
Most crashworthiness cases fall into the following three main categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, and situations where the manufacturer failed to provide an adequate warning of a known danger.
First, manufacturing defects cases involve situations where a flaw in the manufacturing process causes an injury to the vehicle’s occupant(s). Examples of manufacturing defects include a manufacturer’s failure to install a front or side airbag despite the fact that the vehicle’s design called for the installation.
Contrary to manufacturing defects, a design defect occurs when a vehicle is inherently dangerous due to a flaw in the vehicle’s engineering and design. Perhaps the most notorious example of a design defect is the Ford Pinto. In the 1970s, many Pintos exploded after other vehicles hit them from behind. It was later discovered that the faulty location of the Pinto’s fuel tank caused surrounding metal to puncture the tank during a rear-end collision.
Finally, a failure to warn case usually involves a situation where a manufacturer knows or should know of a foreseeable danger within an automobile’s design but fails to provide an adequate warning of such dangers to the public.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and think your vehicle may have a defect, contact a Birmingham motor vehicle defect lawyer to discuss your case.
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