A product defect is not always a slam-dunk in an accident lawsuit

A recent verdict in favor of General Motor Co. serves as an important reminder that a car accident lawsuit still requires the plaintiff, or crash victim, to meet his or her burden of proof. In a civil trial alleging negligence, that means that the victim must present evidence that persuades the jury by a preponderance of the evidence.

In the instant lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that a defective ignition switch caused him to lose control and crash into an oncoming vehicle. The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the other vehicle’s driver was killed.

Readers may recall that GM has issued a product recall on various models containing faulty ignition switches. The potential defect could result in the cars powering off, resulting in a loss of power steering and a potential vehicle stall, among other problems.

In this instance, however, GM claimed the accident resulted from the driver’s own negligence, rather than a vehicular product defect. The road was apparently slick from rain at the time of the crash, and GM alleged that the plaintiff had been recklessly speeding.

Notably, the plaintiff had been cleared by a grand jury of manslaughter charges. The timing of that grand jury coincided around the time that GM began its recall of vehicles containing the faulty ignition switches. Yet the probable cause standard needed for a grand jury indictment is not the same as the preponderance standard in a civil trial.

Our personal injury law firm understands the type of evidence that is needed to present a persuasive case to the jury in a personal injury lawsuit. From eyewitness testimony to crash reconstruction reports and expert analysis, we will work to build a strong case for our clients.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “GM Ignition Switch Wasn’t to Blame for Fatal Crash, Texas Jury Says,” Aug. 25, 2016