Products Liability Newsletter

Defective Vehicle Gas Tanks

Vehicle gas tank explosions are responsible for numerous deaths in the United States. Product liability actions involving gas tank explosions generally allege that the injuries the plaintiffs incurred in an accident were made worse because the defective design of the gas tank made it more likely that the gas tank would explode. Actions alleging defective gas tanks usually allege that the gas tank was improperly designed, that it was improperly located on the vehicle, or that the manufacturer failed to warn vehicle owners of the dangers associated with the gas tank or its placement. However, vehicle manufacturers are not required to produce a gas tank that is incapable of exploding.

The Restatements of Law

Our common law developed from unwritten English law, which was based on tradition and custom. English common law is the foundation of our federal law and the law of all states, except Louisiana (which is based on French Civil Law). The most important characteristic of common law is that it is judge-made law rather than statutory or constitutional law. Under the common law system, current cases are decided using the precedents established by past judicial decisions.

Federal Hazardous Substances Act

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission), a federal regulatory agency, enforces the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (Act). The Act regulates hazardous substances. A hazardous substance means a substance that is toxic, corrosive, an irritant, or flammable and which can cause serious personal injury or illness when used. Pesticides and fuels are regulated by other federal agencies and do not fall within the definition of a hazardous substance.

Lemon Laws

Lemon laws are state laws that protect consumers who buy defective cars. A consumer must have bought the vehicle while it was under the manufacturer's warranty or extended warranty in order for the lemon law to apply. A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer or seller to the consumer. The law recognizes implied warranties and express warranties. Implied warranties are unwritten or unspoken promises. Consumer product transactions include an implied warranty of merchantability (the product will work) and an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (the product can be used for some specific purpose). An express warranty is a written promise made to the consumer about the product or about the commitment on the part of the manufacturer or seller to repair the product if it is defective.

Product Liability Insurance

Product liability insurance protects companies against lawsuits from product-related injuries or accidents. The types of accidents product liability insurance policies protect against are usually those stemming from the use or handling of products or goods manufactured, sold or distributed by the named insured. Product liability insurance generally covers personal injuries, not property damage. While some general insurance policy cover product liability, the majority do not.