Have you or someone you know been involved in a car accident? Was the accident caused or made worse by a defective part? We expect our cars to keep us and our families safe, but with a system of hundreds of moving parts, it is not uncommon for something to fail, often with dangerous results. Indeed, each year, millions of cars are recalled because of manufacturing defects or defective parts that can cause fatal car crashes.
Admittedly, driver error is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents, even if that error is lack of maintenance. However, there are sometimes situations in which an automotive defect either causes the accident or contributes to injuries in a crash. When this happens, the victims of the accident may have the right to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the car.
Common car defects that can cause an accident or contribute to injuries include:
1) Airbags that fail to deploy. Even if the accident was caused by you or someone else, if the airbags fail to deploy your injuries can be made much worse.
2) Airbags that deploy when they should not. If you suffer a small tap or no impact at all, but your airbags deployed, this is not only annoying, painful (airbags can cause burns and bruises), but can also cause you to have an accident.
3) Airbags that deploy too fast or with too much force, causing injuries. Airbags are meant to cushion the impact of a car accident, not exacerbate the situation. If an airbag deploys with too much force, it can break bones or even cause death.
4) Seatbelts that unbuckle during an accident. One of the most fundamental parts of vehicle safety equipment is the seatbelt. If a belt unlatches during an accident, a person can be seriously hurt or killed, even ejected through the windshield.
5) Seatbacks that fail or break during an accident. Almost as bad as unlatching, a seatbelt that breaks in an accident offers little protection, and the question becomes why did it break?
6) Roofs that collapse during a rollover crash. Virtually all cars and trucks are required by modern safety standards to provide roll bars for rollover protection. However, if these fail, the driver compartment becomes compromised and the people inside can be seriously injured or killed.
7) Vehicle fires caused by electrical system defects. Though rare, many of us have seen the car on fire on the side of the road. Vehicles are not supposed to spontaneously combust, and if they do, very often this can be a sign of some form of defect.
8) Sudden unintended acceleration. Losing control of the acceleration of a vehicle can be terrifying and dangerous.
9) Brake failure. Nearly as bad as unintended acceleration, brake failure can result in serious car accidents.
10) Power steering failure. While it is still usually possible to control the vehicle despite the loss of power steering, the sudden change in the amount of force required to do so may be surprising and create the conditions that lead to an accident.
11) Tire failure. The explosion of a tire is often the cause of loss of control of a vehicle. Improper tread ware can also cause steering loss, reduced gas mileage, and other situations.
12) Other vehicle defects. With so many elements going into the creation of a modern vehicle, there are many possible points of failure. Many of these can create dangerous conditions while others may simply cause aesthetic or monetary losses. Either way, it may constitute an actionable defect.
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident caused by an auto defect, it is important that you preserve any evidence that can support your claim. Take pictures and video of the car and the accident scene. Try to keep track of the location of your vehicle, even if it is in an impound lot. Do not get the car repaired until you have hired an attorney. If possible, store the vehicle in a secure location until your attorney can investigate and inspect the vehicle for defects.
Obviously, this type of litigation can become quite complex and require the testimony and assistance of many highly technical experts. Therefore, it is very important that you contact a qualified, competent attorney to assist you with your claim, help obtain the necessary experts, and guide you through the litigation process.