Can a truck maker be sued for a product defect?

We live in a complicated world. The homes we live in are not simply wood frame shelters. Most of us in Alabama enjoy the benefits of modern technology supported by gas and electricity.

The cars and trucks we drive are no less complex. The vehicles on the road today are engineering marvels in many ways. But no matter how well engineered they may be, if a vehicle isn’t put together the right way, the chance of a crash that results in serious or even deadly injury is immense.

If that vehicle happens to be a semitractor trailer, the outcome is even more likely to be catastrophic.

When accidents occur due to defect in design or manufacturing of a consumer product, the victims have a right to seek compensation for the damage they suffer. Medical costs incurred can be huge, as can repair or replacement costs for damaged property. Time off from work can mean loss of pay. If death results, loved ones face long-term financial and emotional pain and suffering.

This comes to mind in light of recent news about a significant product recall by Volvo Trucks North America. The action covers some 16,000 big rig tractors built between 2015 and 2016. Three different models are affected.

Details of the recall are that these vehicles are either missing a pin or have a loose bolt in their steering columns. Should they happen to give way, the shaft could decouple causing the truck to go out of control.

At this point there are no reports of any accidents. But federal regulators are apparently so concerned about the risk that they’ve ordered vehicles that haven’t been repaired off the road.

This isn’t the first time Volvo has had defect problems. Back in 2010, the company recalled 60,000 tractor trucks because of defective ball sockets in the steering systems. Twenty-three accidents and two injuries were blamed on that problem.

If manufacturers fail to meet their duty to assure the safety of their consumers, they should expect to be held accountable.