Recently one person was killed in a crash near Coupland, at the intersection of FM 973 and Richland Road. The crash involved two vehicles, with one being fully engulfed in flames when Travis County sheriff’s personnel arrived at the scene. While very little is known about the deceased, it is worth asking whether or not something in the design of the vehicle contributed to its catching on fire as a result of the impact. While car accidents are distressingly common, vehicles bursting into flames are much less so, and understanding all possibilities can keep you a bit safer from harm if you can see it coming.
Negligence vs. Product Liability
All motorists on Texas roads owe each other a duty to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicles. Normally, in most auto accident cases, a plaintiff sues a defendant for allegedly breaching that duty – this is known as the legal theory of negligence. In a negligence case, a plaintiff must show that duty has been breached, and must also show that they suffered harm because of it that was directly due to the defendant’s conduct, with no other supervening cause in between.
By comparison, product liability cases can often be much more complex. In these types of cases, a plaintiff must establish either that the product had an inherent design defect, that there was a defect in manufacturing this particular product, or that the manufacturer failed to warn of any dangers in use of the product that are not obvious. Texas law on product liability can be particularly strict, especially in defective design claims, because unlike in many other states, plaintiffs are required to establish that a safer alternative design existed – which can be very difficult in most cases.
Defective Automobiles Cause Harm
While it may not be high on most people’s list of factors causing auto accidents, defective automobiles and their parts definitely can play a role in car crashes. Data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) shows that defective automobiles and their parts, particularly tires and steering columns, played a role in approximately 8,950 fatal and injury crashes in 2017. While this may not be as many as other causes such as distracted driving or substance abuse, it is still almost 10,000 families who have been affected by these issues.
It is important to be aware that the number of vehicle recalls has increased steadily over time, reaching a peak in 2016 with almost 53 million vehicles affected. However, these recalls can feel inconsequential; approximately 30 percent of drivers fail to have the issues addressed for a variety of reasons. This can become an issue if your car is later a factor in a serious accident – it may not entirely preclude you recovering, but it can definitely be a factor in lowering your award. The rationale is that you were advised of your car’s potential issues, and yet you failed to remedy any defect.
Can a Defective Automobile Attorney Help You?
Your automobile is not supposed to play a role in harming you. If you have been in an accident and you suspect it is due to defective parts or a defect in the car or truck itself, contacting an experienced attorney can be a good first step in discovering where to go from here. The skilled New Braunfels car accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down with you and try to answer your questions. Call us today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.