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Court Finds in Favor of Auto Manufacturer in Rollover Accident Case Involving Soft-Top Convertible

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case brought by the owner of a Mazda Miata against the car’s manufacturer. In the case, Holiday Motor Corporation v. Walters, the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer breached an implied warranty of merchantability by not creating a soft-top convertible that was capable of withstanding a rollover crash. Ultimately, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claims and imposed judgment for the defendant car manufacturer, based on the fact that the manufacturer did not have a duty to create a soft-top convertible capable of withstanding a rollover crash.

MiataThe Facts of the Case

Walters was driver her 1995 Mazda Miata on a two-lane road when she noticed a large object fall off the truck in front of her. In an attempt to avoid the object, Walters steered the car to the left, across the oncoming lane of traffic, and off the side of the road. As the car left the roadway, it traveled up a slight incline that caused the vehicle to roll over. Eventually, the car came to a stop with the car upside down leaning partially against a tree.

A good Samaritan stopped to render assistance to Walter, who was trapped inside. He testified at trial that when he arrived on the scene, the car was lying flat on the ground upside down. Only the rear of the car was slightly elevated. Walters sustained serious back and neck injuries as a result of the accident, and she filed a product liability case against Mazda. She argued that the soft-top convertible should have been able to maintain its integrity during the accident.

At trial, the jury found in favor of Walters. However, Mazda appealed, arguing that there was no duty to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of keeping occupants safe during a rollover crash. Mazda pointed to the fact that no other manufacturers of soft-top convertibles create the soft-top so that it can withstand that amount of force. Similarly, Mazda argued that people who buy a soft-top convertible should be on notice that it is not as safe as a traditional sedan in the event of a rollover accident.

The court agreed with Mazda, noting that the soft-top feature is a unique one that buyers seek out because it fits their needs. By selecting a soft-top convertible, the court held, buyers should be aware that the vehicle is not necessarily as safe as a traditional sedan or coupe. Thus, the court determined there was no duty on Mazda’s part to manufacture a soft-top convertible capable of withstanding the kind of impact experienced in a rollover crash.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia rollover accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While the at-fault driver may be a place to start when thinking about potentially liable parties, there may be other parties that bear some responsibility for your injuries. Vehicle manufacturers have a duty to create safe vehicles, and if that duty is violated, they may be held responsible. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Miller Legal Services have experience in all kinds of car accident cases, including those arising from dangerously designed vehicles. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case today.

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Case Arising from Low-Speed Accident on Slick Road Results in Defense Verdict, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2016.

The Importance of Instrument Sterilization During Medical Procedures, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2016.