Defective Vehicles

Traffic accidents are caused by several factors including negligent drivers and dangerous roadways. There are car accidents, however, that occur as a result of a defective vehicle or faulty auto part. Defective parts could cause vehicles to malfunction. When this occurs, it is important that the auto manufacturers are notified and that the faulty vehicles are recalled for repairs to prevent other accidents and injuries.

Defective Vehicle Statistics

Under The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to issue vehicle safety standards. Vehicles and auto parts that do not meet Federal standards can be recalled. Since 1966, more than 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires, 66 million auto parts and 42 million child safety seats have been recalled to correct safety defects. Auto manufacturers initiated some of those recalls while others were influenced directly by NHTSA investigators. Many of the recalls, however, only took place after a significant number of people were injured or killed.

picture of a defective vehicle

Types of Vehicle Defects

Vehicle defects mostly fall under two categories:

  • Manufacturing defects: This involves vehicles or vehicle parts that have been improperly manufactures. Such defects occur often due to poor quality control measures. Defects may occur on the assembly line or as the result of negligence on the part of a supplier who provides parts to large automakers.
  • Design flaws: This involves vehicles or parts that may have been properly manufactured, but have an unreasonably dangerous design that could result in serious injuries. An example is the recent recall of Jeep Liberty SUVs that have their fuel tanks placed in the rear and are prone to catching fire in the event of a rear-end crash. Older-model SUVs, which have a higher center of gravity and narrower track width and are prone to rollover crashes are also an example of poor vehicle design.

Examples of Vehicle Defects

There are many types of defects that can cause a serious injury accident. When these parts of a vehicle are defective, it is particularly dangerous:

  • Fuel system: Defective fuel system components can make a vehicle susceptible to catching fire.
  • Airbags: Defective airbags may fail to deploy during a crash or they may suddenly deploy when they are not needed resulting in blunt-force trauma. In some cases, defective airbags in vehicles can actually send shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment.
  • Steering components: When a steering component breaks or malfunctions, it could result in total loss of vehicle control.
  • Seatbacks: Devastating injuries can occur if a seatback fails to stay upright during a collision. When a seatback is defective, front seat passengers can get propelled into a rear-seat occupant or out the rear window.
  • Seatbelts: Some vehicle ejection accidents occur because the safety belt system in the car failed to work properly. Defective seatbelts may rip or fail to latch in the event of a crash causing serious traumatic injuries to occupants.
  • Accelerator: When the accelerator controls break or stick, it may become impossible to slow the vehicle down. Sudden acceleration in vehicles have caused devastating accidents.
  • Wiring systems: Issues with the wiring or faulty switches can lead to car fires.
  • Tires and wheels: When tires fail suddenly, it can cause a vehicle to veer out of control. Defective wheels can crack or break resulting in a loss of control as well.

What To Do If You've been Injured

If you have suffered an injury as the result of a vehicle defect, it is important that you call the authorities and wait for emergency services to arrive. Take photos of the crash site, explain exactly what happened to the police and collect information from anyone who may have witnessed the accident. It is also advisable to preserve your vehicle for a complete inspection. Repairing it could hurt your ability to prove that a defect contributed to the crash. Make sure you seek medical attention that same day to document your injuries as well. The vehicle is the most important piece of evidence in any car accident case. Please ensure that the vehicle is preserved unaltered so that an expert can examine it thoroughly for evidence of defects, malfunctions or design flaws.

Identifying Potential Defendants

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to file a product liability claim against one or more parties.

  • Manufacturer: In an auto product liability claim, the manufacturer is usually a large automaker or corporation. Although they may have the financial means to compensate victims, they often choose to fight these claims with high-powered defense lawyers because product liability claims hurt their brand's image.
  • Parts manufacturer: If your case involves a defective part such as a faulty tire or airbag, it is important that you include the part manufacturer, if it is a company that is separate from the automaker. You can name both the automaker and the maker of the defective part.
  • Car dealership: Whoever sold you the vehicle or a specific defective part could be held liable for your damages.
  • Used car dealer: If the defective vehicle in question is used, the dealer who sold it to you can also be held liable.
  • Car rental company: Rental companies are required under the law to remove defective or recalled vehicles from their fleets. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a defective rental vehicle, you can file a claim against the rental car company seeking damages.

Getting Fair Compensation

A successful product liability claim can result in financial support for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and a number of other related damages. However, filing a claim and fighting against a large corporation is never easy. There are a number of challenges along the way including proving your case and producing evidence that the vehicle was defectively manufactured or designed.

There is a very small percentage of law firms in the country that specialize in auto defect cases and Bisnar | Chase is one of them. We have obtained multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of victims who were catastrophically injured as a result of defective autos. We have the resources, skill and experience to independently investigate vehicle defect cases. We have successfully settled many of these cases and we have also won jury verdicts against large automakers. If you are looking to pursue your legal rights and file a product liability claim, please contact us at 1-800-561-4887 to explore your options.

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case.

Bisnar | Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in other states through our associations with local law firms. Through the local firm, we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice, meaning "for this particular occasion." When in our client's interest, we employ the local law firm (at no additional cost to our client) to assist us with routine court appearances and discovery proceedings to more efficiently pursue our client's cause.

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