5.30F Liability For Injury Due To Mechanical Defect Or Failure
1. Liability of Owner in General
The law imposes upon the owner of a motor vehicle the duty of exercising reasonable care to have such vehicle in safe condition and properly equipped and maintained for use upon the highway. This duty includes the obligation of exercising reasonable care in the inspection of the vehicle for defects or other conditions which would render its use unsafe. An owner of a vehicle is chargeable with knowledge of such defects or conditions in the vehicle as a reasonable inspection would reveal. For failure to perform this duty a defendant is liable in money damages to one who suffers injury thereby.
In order for the defendant to be liable, it is necessary that you find that the defect or condition existed, that it was known to the defendant or could have been discovered by him/her in the exercise of reasonable care on his/her part, and that it was the, or a, proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
It is the duty of the owner of the motor vehicle to exercise reasonable care to see that it is in a reasonably safe condition for operation upon the highway, and that it is so equipped and maintained as not to become a hazard to other users thereof. The failure on the part of the owner to exercise reasonable care as to the equipment, inspection or maintenance of the vehicle constitutes negligence and renders him/her liable for damage to the person or property of another who may be harmed as a proximate result thereof. If the defect or condition which brought about the plaintiff’s injury could have been discovered by the defendant, in the exercise of reasonable care on his/her part, it is no defense that he/she had no actual knowledge of the defect. However, if the defective condition in question was not known to the defendant and could not have been discovered by him in the exercise of ordinary care on his/her part, he/she was not negligent and hence would not be liable for the plaintiff’s injury.
2. Liability of Bailor for Consideration
The bailor of a motor vehicle for the mutual benefit of the parties is under a duty to use reasonable care and diligence to furnish a vehicle which is reasonably fit for the purpose for which it is to be used. This duty includes the obligation of making a reasonable inspection of the vehicle for defects or conditions liable to constitute a source of danger, and to correct such defect or give warning to the prospective user of such defects or conditions of which the bailor has knowledge.
3. Manufacturer’s Liability
The manufacturer of an article, such as an automobile, which while not inherently dangerous, may become so when put to the use for which it is intended, owes to the public the duty of employing reasonable care, skill and diligence in its manufacture, assembly and inspection, and of exercising reasonable diligence to see that it is reasonably fit for the purpose for which it is intended. This duty of reasonable care extends not only to the purchaser of the vehicle but to all persons who may reasonably be expected to use the vehicle or be in the vicinity of its use.