Most car accidents happen because of driver error, but there are those rare instances when a defect with the vehicle causes the accident.
When defective car parts are on the road, serious (if not fatal) accidents can occur. Worse, if the manufacturer does not issue a recall for those defective products, no one will know there is an issue until several accidents happen.
It is essential for motorists to take their vehicle in for regular maintenance and especially when a recall is issued.
Furthermore, owners must know the common defects that can lead to accidents so they can make sure their car is safe to drive.
What Is Considered a Defect and What Should Chicago Drivers Know about Them?
A car might develop (or be made with) a defective component. Unlike your average consumer product, a defect in a vehicle can be dangerous – if not catastrophic. Vehicle defects can lead to severe accidents, injuries, and they do not care how cautious the motorist is at the time. Drivers have limited control over whether a defect causes a crash.
There are instances where owners can be at-fault for defects, too, such as not maintaining their car. For example, a driver knew their brakes were faulty but refused to replace them anyway. By continuing to drive with brakes that were inadequate, they caused the defect and would be at fault instead of the manufacturer.
What Are the Most Common Types of Defects
Defects take many forms, but the most common type of vehicle defects seen in accidents include:
Defective tires have gained more attention in the past few years, especially after the Bridgestone and Firestone tire recalls in the early 2000s. These tire recalls were the two largest in history, and only recalled after the company acknowledged that at high speeds their products might disintegrate and lead to fatal accidents.
The Firestone defects alone led to several hundred injuries, but even non-publicized defects could be out there. Defects could be from a single tire, a component of that tire, or poor maintenance by the owner of the vehicle.
As a driver, you should have your tires checked throughout the year, rotate them per the owner’s manual, and replace them when necessary.
Your vehicle relies heavily on the suspension system. And when that system is not working properly, serious injuries may occur. Most of the time, a car will give off signs that it has a faulty suspension. Signs like uneven wear on your tire tread, bouncing during driving, or a pulling/drifting sensation while you drive.
Your car’s powertrain is the main driving force of that vehicle. It includes the engine, drive shaft, transmission, and other components supplying power so that your vehicle moves. When your powertrain fails, you could be in the middle of the freeway – increasing the chances of a high-speed impact.
Your vehicle will give signs that there is a powertrain failure, including frequent repairs, puddles of oil underneath, and warning lights.
Total Steering Failures
Your steering system is one of the most critical components for safety. If you cannot maneuver your vehicle, you cannot turn or avoid traffic, which might cause an accident.
Steering failures take many forms, and most show signs long before they fail.
Your steering might make high-pitched squealing as you turn the wheel, you may notice a delayed response, the steering could give out from time to time, or you notice your wheel is unusually stiff while turning.
A safety component that no driver wants to have fail in their car is their braking system. Brake defects are one of the most dangerous defects you can have happen, and they also contribute to a high number of motor vehicle accidents each year.
You may have warnings of pending failure, while other times, your vehicle doesn’t warn you at all. Common indicators of failing brakes are brake lights which are continuously lit, grinding or squealing, changes to how your brake pedals respond, or sluggish response.
Sometimes, a defect doesn’t cause an accident, but it causes serious injury in an accident. Airbag defects, for example, can be catastrophic. The airbag is supposed to save your life. But in some instances, they might not deploy in the collision, deploy at the wrong time, or emit debris that causes serious injury.
Defects that Occur During Accidents
For example, a roof that collapses during a rollover crash that should not have is a defect. As I mentioned before, an airbag that doesn’t deploy when it should during an accident is a defect.
These types of defects can be especially devastating, because car owners have no way to tell that they are at risk until they are involved in a severe accident – and by then it is too late.
Can You Sue a Manufacturer for an Auto Defect Accident?
Yes, you can hold manufacturers accountable.
However, you would need to determine liability. Automobile manufacturers and the companies that manufacture those parts owe a duty to the public to ensure that all of the products they sell are safe. If a product has a risk, they are required by law to notify the public of that risk – whether that risk is known at the time of the product’s release or later.
When a manufacturer fails to fulfill this duty, the injured party may file a lawsuit against the company under a product liability lawsuit.
With a product liability lawsuit, you have the right to hold the manufacturer accountable for your injuries and seek damages (compensation).
Who Is Liable?
When you have a product liability case, the first hurdle is determining who is liable. Often, in cases of product liability, there are multiple parties at fault.
The potential parties for a lawsuit include:
- The Manufacturer of the Vehicle: The most apparent party is the one that created and manufactured the vehicle. This would be the brand behind the name.
- The Manufacturer of the Defective Part: While a car is assembled and sold under a name, they are not the sole maker of all the vehicle components. Therefore, you may have a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the elements that were defective. Take the Takata airbag lawsuit, for example. Toyota vehicles were affected, but Toyota did not make the defective airbag. Instead, they purchased it from a third party.
- The Dealership: Dealerships might not make the vehicles, but they are still responsible for ensuring the cars they sell are safe.
The Conditions Required for a Defective Automobile Lawsuit
Like any product liability case, you must meet specific criteria to file your lawsuit. To have a valid claim, the three following conditions must be met:
- Unreasonably Dangerous Defect was Present: You must show that one of the vehicle’s components or the entire vehicle was unreasonably dangerous, and that the unreasonable condition injured you.
- Manufacturer Should Have Known of the Danger: The manufacturer should have reasonably known about the defect and the risk of injury.
- The Defect was the Direct Cause of the Accident and Your Injuries: The defect must be the reason for the car accident. If it turns out your car has a defect but the accident was unrelated to that defect, you cannot sue the manufacturer for your damages.
What Damages Might I Receive for a Claim?
The damages you receive in a car accident involving a manufacturer defect depend on several factors. To start, it will depend on the type of defect and whether the defect caused the crash.
Some of the average compensation seen in these accidents include:
- Medical Expenses: Medical expenses include all treatments, prescriptions, equipment, surgeries, hospitalizations, and ambulance fees associated with your injury. Any specialists you see are also included. You might receive compensation for chiropractic care, but it will depend on the nature of your injuries and other medical treatments you received as well. Any future medical expenses you might have from the injury can also be included in the settlement. If you will require long-term medical care (including rehabilitation, physical therapy, or psychotherapy), you can receive compensation to cover those costs.
- Lost Wages: Naturally, a car accident removes you from work for several days or weeks. Sometimes, you are permanently disabled and cannot return to work as you once did. You will receive compensation for the amount of time you took off work to recover. Furthermore, if you cannot work in the same position, same number of hours, or you are permanently disabled and cannot work at all, you receive compensation for the lost earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: It is hard to put a dollar amount on a person’s pain and suffering, but you do receive compensation for any physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional trauma resulting from the accident. Pain and suffering damages are typically calculated based on the trauma, severity of the injury, and how long that injury might affect you. Medical experts will testify on your behalf to help justify the compensation you request in this category.
Speak with an Attorney for Your Accident – Right Away
If you suspect that a vehicle defect has caused your automobile accident, you need to consult with an attorney. Product liability claims are complicated. And when you are going up against the resources of a vehicle manufacturer, you need an attorney that has experience handling these types of cases.
The advocates at Malman Law can help you with your case. We have represented clients in car accidents and product liability claims. We know how to negotiate with big corporations, and we will help you succeed with your case. Schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with our attorneys today by calling our office or ask us a question online.