Manufacturers can be held responsible when their products cause harm, so it should come as no surprise to learn that vehicle manufacturers can be held responsible when their vehicles either cause or contribute to motor vehicle accidents while out on the road.
Like other manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers can be held responsible for a range of problems with their products. In most cases, these problems can be categorized as problems with either their design, their manufacturing, or their marketing. For example, if a SUV rolls over because of its high center of gravity, that would be a problem with its design. In contrast, if that same SUV was prone to bouts of unintended acceleration because of a sticking accelerator pedal, that would be a problem with its manufacturing. Finally, if the SUV was marketed as an off-road model even though it was not, and something happened because of that marketing, that would be a problem with its marketing.
About Vehicle Manufacturer Liability Accidents
Some problems with the vehicle can increase the chances of the driver getting into a motor vehicle accident. For example, it is not hard to imagine how problems with either the accelerator, the brakes, or the steering system can cause the driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, sending it crashing into something else with dire consequences. In contrast, other problems with the vehicle can increase the amount of damage inflicted as the result of a motor vehicle accident, whether to the driver or to the other parties involved in it. For example, if a SUV with a weak roof rolled over on the road, chances are that the roof will be crushed to some extent in the process. Given that the head is the part of the human form closest to the roof of a car, serious brain and spinal injuries are not uncommon in such cases even when the occupants are fortunate enough to survive.
There have been cases such as the infamous Ford Pinto, which was prone to catching fire when it hit the vehicle in front of it. This was because the filler neck of its fuel tank would tear off with sufficient force and then spill its volatile contents beneath it. Something that resulted in 27 deaths and millions of dollars in damages being awarded against the vehicle manufacturer.
What To Do With Such A Vehicle
With that said, people involved in motor vehicle accidents with such a problematic vehicle can make product liability claims against the vehicle manufacturer. This is true whether the individual was the one driving the vehicle or the one hit by the vehicle. However, even if the person who was hit by the vehicle chooses to make a product liability claim against the vehicle manufacturer, that does not absolve the driver. Instead, the individual can make separate claims against both the driver and the vehicle manufacturer, which is something that people with such vehicles need to keep in mind.