• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: May 2017

When an auto defect causes a car accident, car and car part manufacturers may be held liable for damages.

Can You Sue a Car Manufacturer?

Texas drivers are legally required to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle, which includes obeying traffic laws and avoiding negligent or reckless activities.

Unfortunately, even when a driver operates a vehicle carefully, he or she could still be injured in an accident if the vehicle or one of its parts is somehow defective.

Fortunately, those who are injured in accidents caused by a design or manufacturing defect may be able to collect compensation by filing a product liability claim against the at-fault party.

Vehicle Defects

Vehicle manufacturers can be held liable for products that they design or manufacture if a plaintiff can demonstrate that:

  • The product posed an unreasonable risk of harm to users;
  • It was both technologically and economically possible to produce a safer version of the product; and
  • The car’s defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Defects can include structural problems, design flaws, or failed safety parts. Some of the most common accident-causing auto defects include:

  • Transmission failure;
  • Defective steering components;
  • Defective brakes;
  • Rollover propensity;
  • Unintended airbag deployment; and
  • Defective tires.


Even when a car part’s defect did not cause an accident, an injured party can still collect damages if he or she can demonstrate that the car was not crashworthy. Vehicle manufacturers are required to produce cars that offer a reasonable amount of protection to occupants in the event of an accident. Generally, this means that a manufacturer must design a vehicle in such a way that:

  • Its survival cell will retain its shape even after a collision;
  • Energy from an impact will be directed away from occupants;
  • Fuel cells will be protected from fires; and
  • Seat belts, windows, doors, and airbags will keep occupants relatively immobile during a crash.

Regardless of the cause of the crash, if these certain safety measures are inadequate and an occupant suffers an injury as a result, he or she may have standing to file an auto product liability claim. Common examples of un-crashworthiness include:

  • Unsafe seat belts;
  • Airbag deployment failure;
  • Seat collapse;
  • Roof collapse and other structural defects;
  • Occupant ejection;
  • Child car seat failure;
  • Defective window glazing; and
  • Fuel system defects.

Unfortunately, some accidents are so severe that no amount of safety features could keep the occupants safe. In these cases, when an accident could not be survived using readily available safety technology, a car manufacturer cannot be held responsible for injuries resulting from the accident.

However, vehicles must still be manufactured in such a way that in less severe accidents that do not result in serious injury or death, occupants will not be ejected from the car or struck by something inside the vehicle and the vehicle will not burst into flames or collapse. Finally, in order to recover damages, an injured party must file a claim within two years of the date of the accident.

Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney Today

If you were recently involved in an accident and were injured as a result of a vehicle defect, please contact the legal team at Sutliff & Stout by calling or texting 281-853-8446 today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced product liability lawyer who can explain your legal options.

About the Author

Hank Stout co-founded Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm, to protect and pursue the rights of people who were harmed by the carelessness of others. Mr. Stout is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been actively trying cases for over fifteen years. In recognition of his accomplishments and results, he has been selected by Thompson Reuters as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas) and has been selected as Lead Counsel. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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