David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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Does strict liability apply to Illinois defective car claims?

Many liability claims require injured parties to produce proof of a defendant's negligence. That approach is used in Illinois product liability cases, but alternate theories are available including strict liability. Evidence of negligence is not required to show a car manufacturer created a defective product.

To satisfy strict liability provisions, the plaintiff must establish a faulty product was related to an injury. For example, a defect in a car's ignition causes the switch to shut off spontaneously, resulting in a loss of engine power. The "unreasonably dangerous" defect deprives the driver of control and leads to an injury accident.

Another element of the strict liability doctrine requires plaintiffs to prove the automotive defect existed at the time the vehicle was made, before reaching consumers. An accident victim might not be able to hold a defendant liable, if the car was used in an unusual, unforeseeable way -- like using a passenger car for off-road recreation. The claim also might be invalidated, if the car owner altered the vehicle after purchase to affect performance.

When you hear about car manufacturing defects, you may assume the flaw occurs in the building or assembling stage of the product. In fact, manufacturers can be accountable for product flaws that happen in other chain of production stages. The defect also may be traced to an automotive design defect, distribution or marketing – like failures to warn consumers about dangers during vehicle use.

Damages in Chicago liability cases cover economic and non-economic losses suffered by an accident victim or in cases of wrongful death, a victim's family. Typically, jury awards cover medical expenses and wage losses suffered by the injured party. It has become more common in recent years for added damages to be awarded in product liability claims.

Punitive damages compensate plaintiff losses and punish defendants. High financial penalties also deter other manufacturers of the same product from endangering the public.

Source: FIndLaw, "Car Defect Injury Claims" Oct. 08, 2014

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