Every time this comes up, I expect someone to point out the obvious, existing example of how this would work: Airplanes. All airplane crashes are investigated, and airplane manufacturers can be held responsible for defects in their planes almost in perpetuity. Obviously, this means that they have all gone bankrupt, right?
Yes, airplanes are more expensive because of this (and a lot of other reasons), but they are also safer. If car companies are responsible for their mistakes, it might actually make things better.