Product liability cases can be some of the most strongly defended cases in the court system. Manufacturers know how a final outcome of a lawsuit can grow into other legal actions when it is proven that they have manufactured a defective product being used regularly on vehicles across the country. When defective products have been previously proven as being below acceptable operating standards, claims against the manufacturers and dealers have been easier to win when recalls have already been issued by the Consumer Protection Agency. However, product liability claims in isolated accident situations can be much more difficult to prove unless specific material facts can be exhibited in the deliberation process. That is exactly what has happened in the recent Michelin lawsuit tire case in Texas.
Product liability cases stemming from automobile accidents can be very complicated legal processes for all parties involved. Certain factors such as product design are common items of discussion during negotiations and hearings when a product manufacturer wants to take a case to a full jury trial. This option was chosen by the defendant in the recent Michelin lawsuit, whose legal team was successful in arguing that tire design was not flawed and did not cause the primary accident that generated the Michelin legal action. It was determined that, based on the suggested life of the tires, that they had performed as Michelin advertised. Michelin was given a complete defense verdict and acquitted of any liability in the case.
The Michelin lawsuit case is a prime example of how technical evidence in a product liability claim can impact the verdict. While it was true that the automobile involved in the primary accident did have Michelin tires installed, the fact that the tires had 80,000 miles of previous wear meant the tires were worn beyond Michelin’s reasonable duty of care. Had the tires been new, the outcome of the case may have been different. Furthermore, if the tires had been new, the accident may not have happened. In addition, evidence was submitted that proved the tires had suffered previous damage in another accident.
Manufacturers of automotive products are held to strict liability when their products arrive at market, meaning that claimants filing against a product are not required to prove negligence if the product causes an injury. However, that requirement does not apply to reasonable duty of care. The plaintiff legal counselor must still prove the injury that occurred was caused either directly or indirectly by the product in question. The jury in the Michelin lawsuit found for the defendant because the service life rating of the product was expired.
Michelin North America has been the target of three separate product liability lawsuits in the past decade concerning the durability of their products. They have won a complete defense finding in each of the cases, all of which were defended vigorously because the implications for additional litigation were very negative for the company. Any ruling of product liability could lead to a landslide of legal claims resulting from unexplained accidents where Michelin products were involved.
Multiple incidents of proven negligence can also be the first step to an official government recall that no auto parts manufacturer wants to experience. All companies will fight tooth and nail when defending a case that may open a flood gate of litigation. That is why it is vital for any victim of an auto crash that involved a defective product to retain experienced and aggressive legal counsel that understands the particular challenges with product liability cases.
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