“Nite-shades” Paint Maker Not Liable In Car Accident

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Thursday, February 7, 2013

Most people probably never give much thought to the taillights on their vehicle. Occasionally, you may make a note to yourself that the car in front of you has a burned out taillight, or you may hear a news story involving some type of criminal arrest, where the police officer’s initial interest in the suspect was because the car or truck was missing a working taillight.

Taillights, like virtually all other parts of a car, have been transformed into accessories that can be “tricked out” on the vehicle. The aftermarket parts business is a multi-billion dollar industry, and much of it is driven by the effort to make your vehicle the “coolest” on the street. However, many features of your car are there for important reasons, from your brakes and tires to your head and taillights, and are essential to help prevent car accidents.

A case in St. Louis ended last week with paint company Sherwin-Williams being found not liable for injuries suffered by a boy on a motorcycle who struck a pick-up truck, which had had its taillights modified with “Nite-Shades” paint, designed to blackout the lights.

State law in Missouri and most other states, requires that a taillight be visible for a distance of 500 feet. This is to ensure drivers following the vehicle have enough time to stop. The driver from this case was a 17-year-old high school athlete, who is now paralyzed from the waist down and will require special care the remainder of his life.

Sherwin-Williams had argued that their product was designed for off-road vehicle use only, and that it said so on the paint can. Other defendants in the case, including a mechanic who had approved the pick-up during a state vehicle inspection, had settled earlier.

Nonetheless, owners of vehicles should remember some parts of their vehicles serve vital safety purposes, and you are increasing your risk of a motor vehicle accident when you make modifications to those systems.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis County lawsuit is ‘cautionary tale’ on obscuring taillights,” Jennifer Mann, February 1, 2013

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