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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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:
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:
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.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023