Steven A. Bagen | October 24, 2022 | Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are incredibly common, and while many result from driver inattention or distraction, other underlying issues can be to blame. Vehicles have hundreds of parts, and it is common for a part to malfunction. Unfortunately, when there is a mechanical error or defective part, the results can be catastrophic for those in and around the vehicle.
When a vehicle manufacturer becomes aware of a defect, they should issue a recall, and it is up to drivers to address the issue. Numerous recalls each year result in crashes before drivers know about recall or can repair the problem.
After an accident, victims can file product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer. The accident can be a direct cause of the defect, or it can be a contributing factor. Determining how much the defect contributed to the accident is essential because other drivers and the product manufacturer can share liability. You will need a car accident attorney to guide you on who can be liable and your legal options.
Common Defective Parts
Since car defects are so common, you can assume there is an extensive list of defects that contribute to accidents and injuries.
Airbags present several known issues during accidents. While a properly functioning airbag will save lives, faulty ones can make injuries worse. When an airbag fails to deploy, it can cause otherwise preventable injuries. Additionally, when an airbag deploys when it is not supposed to, it can cause injury. Airbags must not deploy from a slight tap or without impact; they should deploy after a significant impact.
Airbags cause burns and bruises, which are very painful but are often better than flying through a window. If the airbag deploys unnecessarily, then it can cause an accident resulting in more injuries. Lastly, when an airbag deploys too fast or with too much force, it can lead to severe injuries and even death. Airbags are supposed to cushion the impact of an accident, not make it worse, so it is a significant concern when they do not work correctly.
Seatbelts are another life-saving device in vehicles. There are even laws in most states requiring the use of seatbelts. During an accident, seatbelts help to keep occupants in the car. The most significant malfunction of seatbelts is they unbuckle during an accident. When the seatbelt unlatches, it can cause the person to be ejected from the vehicle and suffer worse injuries than if they had a seatbelt on. The worst outcome is death when a seatbelt is not in proper working order.
There are some serious accidents that can cause a vehicle to roll over. For your protection, all cars have roll bars to protect occupants and meet modern safety standards. If a car does not have a roll bar or the bar fails, the vehicle is dangerous to everyone inside. It can lead to catastrophic injuries and death. Suppose you are in a rollover accident, and the roof collapses; all the metal and other components will fall onto the people in the vehicle, crushing them.
Vehicles have different parts that can cause a fire in the electrical system. Vehicles will have many safeguards to avoid fires, but the right combination of circumstances can lead to a fire. In general, a car should not catch fire spontaneously. If it does, that means the manufacturer was likely negligent in some form and must be held liable.
Accelerator and Brake Failure
A car’s acceleration and brakes are how drivers control the flow and direction of the vehicle. Drivers can lose control of the car if it suddenly begins to accelerate. It is scary when you cannot control the vehicle’s acceleration because your life is no longer in your hands. Conversely, brake failure is another dangerous situation because there might be no way to stop the car before causing a collision.
Power steering is vital for controlling your vehicle’s movements, and while there is still a chance you can control the vehicle during a failure, it is exceptionally challenging. Power steering failure makes it difficult to control and steer, and you might lose control. Sometimes, you cannot regain control and will end up in an accident.
A tire can explode for several reasons but often results from improper materials. A tire explosion is frightening and often leads to losing control of the vehicle. A tire issue can also reduce gas mileage, cause alignment issues, and more. Tire blowouts can often leave you stuck on the side of the road, or they lead to a complete loss of control and a collision.
There are many other potential vehicle defects because cars have many moving parts. Some defects can lead to financial strain and nothing more, while others can result in life-changing injuries. Many vehicle defects and malfunctions are the fault of the manufacturer.
When another driver neglects their duties to maintain their vehicles, it can contribute to the vehicle getting worse for wear. If there is a recall for the car or a particular piece, it is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to take steps to resolve the concern. If a driver continues to operate a knowingly defective or poorly-maintained vehicle, they can cause a crash. If you suffer injuries, that negligent driver should be liable.
When there is a collision from a vehicle part defect, evidence is critical to holding manufacturers responsible. Vehicle owners should not dispose of the vehicle or parts because that is crucial evidence for a product defect case.
If you are in another car, you should immediately hire an auto defect lawyer so they can send letters of evidence preservation to the driver who hit you. Proving a product defect is challenging and requires more than the vehicle itself. You will also need technical experts and documentation to prove the defect was a factor in the collision and your injuries.
Mechanical Errors and Product Liability
A mechanical defect can result from a manufacturing defect or a flaw in the product design. A vehicle manufacturing defect happens when the product is in construction or production.
When it is a design defect, it affects the entire line of products. Manufacturing defects affect a small number of vehicles in contrast to design defects. It is challenging to prove a singular product defect, but you will need the help of a local product liability lawyer.
A vehicle expert will likely need to testify about the defect and whether there was an alternative design or manufacturing approach available that the manufacturer should have used.
Improper Vehicle Maintenance Can Cause Car Accidents
Motorists have a duty to maintain vehicles to proper working standards; when they do not, it can lead to injuries. There is routine maintenance they must do, like oil and tire changes.
Everyday maintenance issues that lead to accidents are:
- Rust and corrosion
- Inadequate tire pressure
- Depleted tire treads
- Burnt out headlights
- Engine failure
- Past due oil change
- Low brake or steering fluid
- Burnt out tail lights
Drivers need to determine when to conduct maintenance on their vehicles. Fortunately, most modern vehicles will inform drivers about issues. But not all cars have these features, and drivers must take it upon themselves to inspect the vehicle. Many motorists are familiar with oil changes and usually perform them regularly. However, checking tail lights, tire pressure, and other issues is a habit that not all motorists participate in.
Drivers can suffer a tire blowout when they do not check tire tread and pressure. Brake lights are essential for informing others of a driver’s actions; when they do not work, someone can cause a rear-end collision. These are only some examples of how a driver might be liable for improper vehicle maintenance.
Proving Negligence in a Defective Vehicle Claim
All vehicle accident victims will need to prove negligence of some sort and who the negligent party was. Strict liability is another principle that can factor in these claims. Aside from the manufacturer, the vehicle repair shop can bear some responsibility if they install the defective part into the vehicle. Repair shops can assume responsibility if they install a defective part, fail to notice a significant repair, or perform the wrong repair.
You will need legal advice to determine who can be held liable. There are instances where multiple parties are responsible for the collision.
The car manufacturer can be the first party liable for a collision due to a mechanical error. As mentioned, strict liability can apply, which means you do not have to prove specific negligence. Filing a claim against a manufacturer has unique challenges because major auto manufacturers have many resources to defend against liability.
Vehicle mechanics must have education and certifications to perform their job duties. Your defective parts lawyer lawyer can discover that the mechanic made a faulty repair to a vehicle involved in a crash. The mechanic is responsible for doing the proper job they are performing, and if they do not, they can be negligent and held liable.
The Driver of the Other Vehicle
Lastly, the other vehicle’s driver can also be responsible for a car accident from a mechanical failure or defect. Motorists owe each other a duty to maintain their vehicles safely for road use. All motorists are responsible for maintaining their cars and keeping them in working order. A driver must perform routine maintenance. Additionally, if there is a problem with the vehicle, including a recall, and the driver did not take any steps to address it, they can also be liable.
Before filing an injury claim, you will need to determine who is at fault for the accident and what the cause was. Those will be two critical factors in getting compensation.
The process of recovering damages will vary by who is liable. When the car owner is negligent, you can file a claim with their insurance company. You can sue the mechanic and the business if the mechanic is at fault. If the product manufacturer is to blame, you might file a lawsuit against that corporation.
You need to focus on recovering physically and getting back to your life. Allow your lawyer to investigate who can be responsible for your injuries.
Recovering Damages With the Help of a Lawyer
Car accidents are not as simple as one person colliding with another. There are several underlying causes, and you must have legal representation to ensure you file a claim against any parties who bear responsibility for your injury. A defective part is challenging to prove, and it will require all of the vehicle parts to undergo an inspection.
If you file a successful claim, you can recover compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills now and in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repair
- Vehicle replacement
- Punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence
Due to the intricacies of these cases, you need legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer with a car accident and product defect experience.
There are many possible defenses that manufacturers and mechanics will use to avoid paying you a fair settlement. When a manufacturer issues a recall, they also use this as legal protection against lawsuits. However, issuing a recall is not the only step they must take; they must also inform individual vehicle owners and make repairs available. Mechanics will shift the blame to other sources. You need a car accident lawyer with experience in these cases.