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Liability In Personal Injury Claims Due To Vehicle Defects

When the victim of a car accident decides to file a personal injury claim against another driver, negligence must be proven. A personal injury claim resulting from an accident caused by a defect in the vehicle does not require proof of the manufacturer’s carelessness. In New Jersey, as across the United States, the rules of “strict liability” are used in cases relating to defects in vehicles.

In order to file a liability claim against a manufacturer because of a vehicle defect there are three conditions which must exist. Firstly, the injury suffered must have been caused by a defect in the motor vehicle or a vehicle part which can be considered “unreasonably” dangerous. Secondly, when the victim was injured the vehicle had to be used for its intended purpose. Lastly, the vehicle should not have been changed from its original condition to such an extent that the performance is changed.

A manufacturer or seller of a vehicle may use the age of the vehicle as a defense against an auto product liability claim. Another possible defense against a liability claim is proof that the victim was aware of the defect, but still used the car. In such cases, the defense may argue that the victim played a contributory role in his or her injuries.

The current trend in auto defect liability cases is to award punitive damages as well as compensatory damages. This means that the manufacturer is punished as motivation to fix defects in the design of vehicle which has led to injuries. In New Jersey, seriously injured victims of a vehicle accident caused by a defect in their vehicle may choose to institute a personal injury claim with the help of an attorney specializing in auto product liability claims against the vehicle manufacturer.

Source: FindLaw, “Car Defect Injury Claims“, Sept. 1, 2014