If I was recently in a pretty bad car accident and my airbags did not deploy, do I have a case against the makers of my car?

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If I was recently in a pretty bad car accident and my airbags did not deploy, do I have a case against the makers of my car?

Asked on September 5, 2012 under Accident Law, Virginia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the manufacturer and the seller (dealer where you purchased the car).

Prior to filing a lawsuit, it may be possible to settle your personal injury claims with the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and seller.

When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point in your medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss.  Your personal injury claim filed with the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and seller should include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If the case is settled with the insurance carriers for both the manufacturer and seller, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is settled with one insurance carrier, but not the other, only name the party with whom the case has not settled as a defendant in your lawsuit.  If the case is not settled with either party, name both the manufacturer and seller as defendants. 

Your lawsuit would have separate causes of action (claims) for negligence and strict liability.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to produce a product that is not defective).  The dealer (seller) is liable even if the dealer could not have known that the airbag was defective.

In addition to your negligence cause of action, you would have a separate cause of action (claim) in your lawsuit for strict liability against the manufacturer and seller.  Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability.  If the case is NOT settled, you will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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