If you are hurt in a car wreck because your car did not have available safety equipment, is the manufacturer or seller responsible for your injuries? This is a question that is often debated in courts across the country. As you might expect, evidence that helps to answer this question is very controversial at products liability trials. A recent case involving the crash of a Toyota Tundra helps to show the contours of this debate.
Mr. Kim’s Toyota Tundra veered off the road when he had to swerve to avoid another vehicle. Kim argued that Toyota should have had electronic stability control (ESC) on the truck as standard equipment. Instead, Toyota offered it as optional, for additional money. In essence, Kim claimed that because this technology was available but not installed, the truck was sold to him as defective and that the defective truck caused his accident and injuries.
Kim brought a products liability action against Toyota, arguing that it should be held strictly liable for putting his truck into the marketplace in a defective condition. Before the trial started, Kim asked the trial court not to allow Toyota to introduce evidence that other truck manufacturers also did not have ESC as standard equipment for the model year of his truck. This is known as industry custom evidence. The trial judge denied the motion and let Toyota put on the evidence. Kim filed an appeal.
The intermediate appellate court held that it was sometimes proper to allow industry custom evidence to be used in a strict products liability action. However, whether it was in any given case depended on the facts of that case and what the evidence was offered to prove.
The appellate court specifically stated that just because “all of the manufacturers in an industry make the product the same way is not relevant because it does not tend to prove the product is not dangerous: All manufacturers may be producing an unsafe product.”
An experienced products liability lawyer can help sort out issues like the type of evidence that may be used when a defective vehicle causes injuries. If you or someone you know suffered serious injuries in an accident as a result of a defective vehicle, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.