Auto Manufacturer’s Liability in Pedestrian Impacts

Vehicular accidents are incredibly hazardous and potentially fatal to surrounding bystanders. In fact, a survey done by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that 2019 reached a record high of 6,590 pedestrian fatalities. Despite the safety measures in place, pedestrian deaths continue to rise.

Pedestrian impacts are life-threatening because several vehicle models have inherently unsafe designs. Auto manufacturers who don’t take the necessary actions to improve the models may be held liable in a pedestrian impact case. Advancements in technology, such as lane-keep assistance and blind-spot alerts, can significantly decrease the chance of a pedestrian injury or death occurring. 

By the way, check out Understanding Pavement Drop-Off Accidents if you have questions about drop off accidents.

A Lack of Government Regulation

In 2008, the United Nations developed an international standard requiring manufacturers to implement shock-absorbing capabilities in the bumpers and hoods of their vehicle models. Many countries are leading the charge in pedestrian protection, as they implement New Car Assessment Programs that account for both the driver’s and any surrounding pedestrian’s safety. Sadly, the United States isn’t one of them.

There is currently no US law or local Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that requires automobile designs for pedestrian safety. With no legislation in place, local automotive manufacturers can simply ignore the UN’s international standards without facing any repercussions.

Making a Product Liability Claim

When a pedestrian suffers injuries and damages from a motor accident, the liable party will likely be the driver, or drivers, who caused the incident. However, it might also be possible to file a product liability claim against the auto manufacturers of the vehicles involved.

The legal doctrine of strict liability governs product liability claims. Simply put, victims may hold auto manufacturers liable for injuries and damages caused by their products, even if they didn’t act negligently in making that car defective.

Victims who want to take this route need to meet these requirements:

1.    The Vehicle Is Defective

The victim or their legal team needs to prove that the manufacturer’s automobile has a dangerous design. However, this condition might also result from a manufacturing defect or improper handling during shipment.

2.    The Victim Sustained Injuries and Suffered Losses

While an unsafe bumper or hood design might be dangerous for pedestrians, you only have grounds to sue its manufacturer if these defects caused an injury, death, or financial loss. Examples of damages that you can seek compensation for include medical costs, pain and suffering inflicted, loss of earnings, and loss of consortium.

3.    The Vehicle Doesn’t Have Any Alterations

The bumper, hood, or the entire automobile should be in the same condition as when it was originally sold. If the owner made a substantial change that influences how their car performs, it might not be possible to file a claim against the auto manufacturer. In this case, the party who altered the vehicle might be held liable.

4.    The Driver Used the Vehicle as Intended

In an auto defect claim, the victim might have to prove that the driver followed the proper safety guidelines during the accident. Any automobile, even when used as intended, could be involved in a collision, and it’s the responsibility of the manufacturer to design vehicles and auto parts with protective mechanisms in place.

Why Hire a Professional Legal Team?

The vehicles in the US are becoming bigger, heavier, and more dangerous, and the government has not implemented industry requirements that account for pedestrian safety.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries or losses during a vehicular accident, seeking legal assistance as soon as possible can make a huge difference. At Larson & Miller Injury Law, our attorneys are knowledgeable in cases involving pedestrian impacts in vehicular crashes.  If necessary, we will thoroughly examine the accident site, collect evidence, and document details that may aid your case.   If we identify a potential product liability claim, we may associate with co-counsel versed in that specific product defect to insure you get solid legal representation in your particular case. 

With over 100 years of combined work experience, we have helped countless clients file valid claims against liable parties for financial compensation. Call us at 417-890-6677 today so we can begin assessing your claim.