Products Liability Law

Motor Vehicle Product Liability Law: Toyota's Liability for Car Accidents

Toyota, one of the world’s most trusted car manufacturers, shocked the world in 2009 and 2010 with recalls of more than 8 million vehicles. While Toyota is not the first, and certainly will not be the last, car manufacturer to issue recalls, the scope of the vehicle recalls has affected millions of Americans who have concerns about the safety of their vehicles and liability for accidents that have already happened in those vehicles. People who have been injured by defective Toyota products may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Toyota May be Liable for Accidents in Recalled Vehicles

Toyota, like any other product manufacturer, may be responsible for injuries caused by its defective product. Generally, a motor vehicle may be found defective if one of the following occurred:

  • A Manufacturing Defect: a manufacturing defect occurs when a car, or a part of the car, was not manufactured according to the approved design. A manufacturing defect can happen during the original manufacturing of the product or because certain specifications for repair, shipping or maintenance were not properly followed.
  • A Design Defect: a design defect occurs when the design of the vehicle, or the part of the vehicle, itself was unreasonably dangerous. This vehicle may have been manufactured according to the design, but it is still unreasonably safe because the design itself was unsafe.

A car manufacturer can also be found liable for failing to warn consumers about known dangers that would not be obvious to the average consumer. However, the two types of defects described above are much more common in motor vehicle product liability cases.

In order to be successful in a motor vehicle product liability case, the plaintiff must prove that one of the above described types of defects occurred and that the defects were the cause of the victim’s injuries. Potential defendants include the car manufacturer, the parts manufacturer, the car dealership and/or the car repair shop. 

The 2009 and 2010 Toyota recalls seem to indicate that the problem occurred in the original design and/or manufacturing of the vehicles. Therefore it is likely that Toyota and its part manufacturers may be potential defendants in product liability lawsuits arising from accidents in recalled Toyota vehicles.

Understanding Car Accident Liability

Most car accident lawsuits allege that a driver’s negligence was the cause of the injuries in the accident and that as a result the driver should be responsible for the damages caused in the accident. However, as explained above, motor vehicle accidents can also occur because of product defects rather than driver negligence. In those cases, it is not the driver who is held legally responsible but rather the persons, or company, responsible for the defect. It is, therefore, important to investigate whether a defect in the motor vehicle caused your injuries if you have been hurt in an accident with a recalled Toyota. You may be entitled to damages under a product liability theory of law if you were the driver of the Toyota or anyone else injured in the accident with the defective motor vehicle.

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