Alabama Products Liability & Car Accident Cases: What You Need To Know

Products liability cases involve such things as a defective toaster that burns someone, right? Although that’s true, did you know that products liability cases are often an integral part of car accident cases? A good lawyer will be able to recognize both and help you to obtain all the recovery for which you’re entitled.

Attorney Dana Taunton

In a recent interview, Dana Taunton, an Alabama attorney whose practice focuses on product liability and personal injury matters, told us that products liability law is an area of practice that many victims, and even lawyers, don’t really understand or know how to recognize. She explained, “If someone drives their car off the road and it hits a tree, an inexperienced lawyer will just look to the general insurance coverage. He or she may never really look at it from a products liability standpoint because it’s a one vehicle accident. However, it’s important to look at why the car went off the road to see if some part of the car was defective. It’s an area of law that is sometimes overlooked.”

She provided other examples such as:

Airbags & seatbelts are products. Taunton says, “In the example above, the driver’s airbag may not have deployed or the seatbelt may not have held. So, the person’s injuries may not have been from the accident itself, but from a defective product. When a police officer arrives at the scene of the accident, he or she may notice that the driver’s seatbelt isn’t locked. However, that doesn’t mean that the driver wasn’t wearing the seatbelt. It could have unlocked during the accident.”

“We’ve had a number of cases where the last person who saw this victim alive said, ‘You know, five minutes before the accident, the driver was wearing her seatbelt. She’s a habitual seatbelt user.’ So, the driver may not have been injured or killed if her seatbelt had worked correctly.”

Airbag defect cases can apply in a variety of situations, including situations where the airbag deployed in a collision where the vehicle was going less than 10 miles per hour; the airbag did not deploy at all, yet the vehicle sustained visible damage; the airbag deployed too late to protect the occupant or if the airbag itself caused damage to the occupant.

Seatbelt defect cases may be the result of:

  • An occupant who was believed to have been belted is found unbelted after the accident, makes contact with the vehicle interior resulting in injury or is ejected outside the vehicle or outside the restraint of the seat belt, but the seat belt buckle is latched;
  • The webbing of the seat belt is torn or loose after the accident;
  • The door mounted seat belts in the vehicle were ineffective when the door of the vehicle opened or if the seat belt mounts came loose from the floor or vehicle pillars during the accident.

Defective tires & car fires. Other factors may have been defective tires or a car fire that occurred – but shouldn’t have. Taunton told us, “We see the latter quite a bit. A vehicle that’s in an automobile accident should not catch on fire. However, many do and the driver may survive the accident itself, but then is burned alive. That’s a product liability case.”

As Taunton points out, fuel fire cases are far too common. These can occur when manufacturers don’t follow industry design guidelines relating to the fuel filler, fuel line, fuel tank or fuel pump. They can also occur when manufacturers don’t provide proper structural protection for the fuel tank. In fact, simple shielding of the tank can prevent fuel fires. This is something that the automobile industry has known for years; however, many manufacturers have ignored this safety precaution.

Accidents that result from tire failures such as blowouts and de-treading are often preventable and may be subject to product liability claims. Most tires should be replaced every six years – regardless of whether they are used or still sitting on a display case as they may become brittle due to age, not wear, and can cause severe injury. A recent ABC news report showed that many of the nation’s largest tire retailers are selling older tires as new

Taunton says that looking at all aspects of a potential case is what a good lawyer does – which helps clients in recovering all of the damages for which they’re entitled. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, consult with an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To contact a qualified attorney, please click here.