In a Chicago car accident, it is typically one of the drivers who is at fault. Sometimes drivers may blame the manufacturers for a defect that caused the crash, and they are sometimes right. However, in one recent product liability case against Ford Motor Company, the automaker prevailed.
The lawsuit claims that Ford should be held liable for a December 2006 accident in which a 16-year-old driver of a Ford Focus drifted toward the left after becoming distracted. He then overcompensated by turning too far to the right. The car began to rotate to the right and the driver then steered to the left. However, the car continued to veer to the right, onto a shoulder and into a canal that was 25 feet deep.
The plaintiffs blame Ford and the dealership for not equipping the car with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or informing them that the car did not have it. They maintain that if the vehicle had ESC, the driver would not have lost control, or he would have at least been able to regain control and avoid crashing into the canal.
Ford defended its vehicles, stating that a lack of a particular feature did not make the car defective. The company also believes that ESC would not have made much difference. In addition, the cause of the accident was driver inattention, not the car's lack of ESC.
A Florida jury of six sided with Ford. The unanimous decision was reached in less than an hour. The plaintiffs were seeking $10 million in damages.
Although auto manufacturers have the responsibility to keep consumers safe from defective products, there is only so much they can do. If a consumer is truly looking for a specific feature, then it is their responsibility to find a vehicle with that feature, not the manufacturer or dealer. Although it is unfortunate that the driver as involved in an accident, it was caused by his own distracted driving.
Legal Newsline, "Jury sides with Ford in product liability case" Jessica M. Karmasek, Oct. 15, 2013