Jury holds Chrysler liable for older car’s fatal design flaw

Just about everyone knows that before a vehicle is released on the market, manufacturers have to prove that the vehicle is safe and that it meets all government safety standards as well. But as we all know, safety standards are constantly being changed and updated. What was once considered safe 20 years ago might not be the case now.

This poses an important question to drivers of used cars then: if your vehicle is deemed unsafe now but wasn’t when it was first produced, can the manufacturer still be held liable in the event of a serious or fatal crash? It’s a question most people don’t get an answer to until after the unthinkable happens, which is not the way we want any of our readers to find out. That’s why in today’s post, we’d like to highlight an out-of-state case that may provide some clues as to how a personal injury claim involving an older unsafe vehicle might go.

The case we’d like to present to our South Carolina readers is the wrongful death claim against Chrysler which recently received a ruling in a Georgia courtroom. Just as we did above, this case raised the important question about a manufacturer’s responsibility for a vehicle that had been deemed safe but was no longer considered as such by today’s standards. After less than two hours of deliberation, the court had its answer: yes, a manufacturer can be held liable.

Because older vehicles can be found anywhere across the United States, including here in South Carolina, a case such as this could just as easily have been brought before our courts as well. Whether a jury here would award the same sizable verdict to a wrongful death victim remains to be seen, though the hope is that our courts would come to the same conclusion the court did in this case and award a victim the compensation they deserve.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Chrysler Hit With $150 Million Penalty in Boy’s Death,” Mike Spector, April 2, 2015