According to the latest data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), thousands of people are injured in commercial truck accidents in the state each year. Truck accidents can happen for a wide array of different reasons—from speeding to undertrained drivers to truck companies failing to conduct adequate pre-trip and post-trip maintenance.
A truck accident could also happen—or be made worse by—a product defect. In California, manufacturers could bear liability for a truck accident if a defective product was a factor in the cause or severity of the crash. Here, our Stockton truck accident attorneys explain when a manufacturer can be held legally liable in a commercial truck accident claim in California.
Manufacturers Have a Duty to Ensure their Products are Reasonably Safe
In California, manufacturers have a legal duty to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for their intended use. Car companies, truck manufacturers, and auto parts makers are no exception to the rule. A manufacturer could be held legally liable for injuries caused by a defective product.
When a truck or other vehicle is involved in an accident, it’s important to determine whether a manufacturing defect played a role in causing the accident or making the accident more severe than it otherwise could have been. Both design defects and manufacturing defects can be a problem.
Of course, it is not always obvious to a layman or an initial observer whether or not a manufacturing defect played a role in a commercial truck accident. For this reason, it is crucial that all large truck accidents in the San Joaquin Valley are carefully investigated by an experienced Stockton attorney.
Understanding the Different Categories of Product Defects (Truck Accidents)
There are many different types of product defects that could potentially contribute to a truck accident in Central California. For the purposes of product liability law, these defects can be broadly divided into three categories:
- Design Defects: Design defects are defects that are inherent to the design of the product. As an example, a truck may have a design defect that makes it unreasonably prone to rollovers. Alternatively, a truck may have a design defect that produces an unsafe blind spot.
- Manufacturing Defects: These are defects that occur during the manufacturing process itself. In other words, the truck design or auto parts design was not flawed, but something happened in the manufacturing process that created a flaw in a particular product or line of products. For example, a truck may have a manufacturing defect that causes a tire to blow out or that causes the brakes to fail.
- Warning Defects: These are defects that relate to the instructions or warnings provided with the product. Proper safety instructions for trucks and truck parts are a must. As an example, a truck’s trailer may have a warning defect if it does not include adequate instructions on how to properly load the truck to limit the risk of an accident.
Big corporations in the trucking industry should never put profits before public safety. It is crucial that all companies carefully design, manufacture, and market their products to ensure that they are safe for their intended use.
Know the Standard: What Makes a Product “Defective” Under California Law?
California is a strict liability state for defective product claims. In other words, product liability cases are generally not “negligence” cases. If you can prove harm caused by a product defect in a truck accident, then the responsible company can be held strictly liable. No finding of negligence is required. This raises a key question: When is a product deemed defective in California? The answer depends on the specific nature of the claim. Below is a breakdown of the key things to know about the applicable standard in different types of truck accident product liability claims.
- Manufacturing Defect: CACI No. 1202 defines a manufacturing defect as a product that “differs from the manufacturer’s design or specifications or from other typical units of the same product line” in material ways.
- Design Defect: In California, there are two tests for design defects: The risk-benefit test and the consumer expectation test. Either test could apply. If the manufacturer could have reasonably used a safer design, the product may be deemed defective.
- Failure to Warn: Liability for a product defect in a truck accident on the grounds of failure to warn requires proving that the company did not provide adequate warnings/instructions and that an ordinary consumer of the product would not have recognized the potential hazard of a particular type of use.
Set Up a Free Case Review With a Stockton Commercial Truck Accident Attorney Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton truck accident lawyers have the skills, experience, and legal knowledge to handle all types of product defect claims. If you or your family member was harmed in a crash caused by a manufacturer’s defect, we are here to help. Contact us today for a free review of your case. We handle truck accident claims throughout the surrounding region, including in Stockton, Sacramento, Lodi, Sutter Creek, Galt, and Manteca.