Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

Can a manufacturer be liable for a car accident?

Driver negligence is a big contributor to many motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey. Yet there may be other causes outside of a driver’s control. The product recall involving GM ignition switches is a recent example of a product defect that has caused injuries to many drivers. Although GM was not immediately forthright, it has subsequently issued a product recall and set up a settlement fund for accident victims.

That context makes today’s story particularly disturbing. According to a recent disclosure, the onboard navigation and hands-free software technology in Fiat Chryslers is subject to cyber attack. Yet more is at stake than hacked emails or texts. 

Specifically, the technology allows users to remotely start or turn off their engines. Consequently, a hacker might be able to shut of a Fiat Chrysler mid-operation. It’s not difficult to imagine how the sudden loss of power steering and brakes, not to mention the surprise, could result in a horrific motor vehicle crash.

Although this product flaw is disturbing, the real shock is the automaker’s response in papers it submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to Fiat Chrysler, the software flaw is not technically a defect under U.S. law, and thus did not require a disclosure. In fact, the automaker also admitted that it knew about the issue for approximately 18 months.

Our law firm has helped many car accident victims bring civil lawsuits seeking to hold other drivers or parties responsible and accountable for their actions. Whether the cause of a crash was a negligent driver or an unsafe product, we can help you prepare a persuasive claim and present compelling evidence to the jury. Going up against a big corporate defendant may not be easy, as in the case of a defective motor vehicle, but we have the experience to present a strong case.

Source: ZDNet, “Regulators left in dark over Chrysler security flaw for 18 months,” Charlie Osborne, Aug. 6, 2015

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