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When Defective Car Parts Lead to Car Accidents

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Monday, August 20, 2018

When Defective Car Parts Lead to Car Accidents

Not all motor vehicle accidents result from human error. In fact, there is a handful that occur due to faulty vehicle parts. Whether that part is defective by design, flawed during manufacturing, or installed incorrectly, these accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries.

Victims in these accidents may be able to hold the manufacturer, and other parties involved in the distribution chain, responsible for their injuries and receive the compensation they need to recover from the accident.

Defective Car Parts Are Considered Product Liability in Chicago

When you are holding manufacturers, designers, and mechanics responsible for defective products, you are entering the area of product liability law. Product liability claims are personal injury claims that base themselves off the premise that a product was inherently dangerous and lead to the victim’s injuries.

The Basics of Product Liability

Product liability claims typically arise because one of three defects occurred:

  • The product’s design was flawed. Defective designs happened when the design of the product was inherently flawed and dangerous. Even when manufactured correctly, this product was likely to cause harm. In design defect cases, all products – not just one batch – are affected. A design defect could involve an unstable electrical system in a vehicle or a faulty brake pad design.
  • The product’s manufacturing caused the defect. Defective manufacture means that the product was designed to be safe, but during manufacturing, an error occurred that made it unreasonably dangerous. Using substandard materials, failing to conduct quality control inspections, or even improper assembly are examples of manufacturing defects.
  • The failure to warn was inadequate. Sometimes called “defective marketing,” failure to warn claims arise when the product’s dangers could be avoided through proper instruction or warning.

Multiple legal theories apply when going through product liability claims, but most are based around negligence. Also, multiple parties can be liable for injuries that stem from one of the three defects mentioned above.

Common Types of Defective Vehicle Parts That Lead to Serious Accidents

A modern automobile is a complex machine that relies on hundreds of various parts to work correctly. These parts have a potential for failure, but not all failures lead to serious accidents or injuries. Components that have a higher risk to cause serious injury when they are defective include:

  • Brake Systems: A vehicle’s braking system is by far one of the most critical safety components, because it allows you to slow or stop. When the braking system fails, a driver cannot control their vehicle, which could lead to a catastrophic high-speed accident. Braking systems involve multiple components that could fail when manufactured, designed, or installed incorrectly, including brake lines, cylinders, pedals, and pads.
  • Steering Systems: The steering mechanism in a vehicle allows you to direct your car in one direction. When that mechanism fails, you cannot avoid a collision and may even create an accident by veering into traffic. Components that could fail in a steering system include power steering pumps, hydraulic lines, tire rods, and gears within the steering.
  • Tires: Tires are critical to vehicle safety, and they are the one component that keeps a car in contact with the pavement. When tires fail, drivers may lose control of their vehicle. For example, a tire blow-out could lead to a catastrophic accident. Defective tires can occur from poor manufacturing, substandard rubber use, tread errors, defects in the structure, or an adhesion issue.
  • Airbags: Even if an accident occurs due to human error, when the airbag does not deploy as it should or does so in a manner that causes injury, that vehicle defect could turn a simple rear-end collision into a catastrophic crash. Defective airbags could also deploy while driving; thus, causing the accident. Other times airbags fail to deploy or deploy and send debris into the face of the person in front of them.
  • Windshield Wipers: You might not realize it, but windshield wipers are a critical component to vehicle safety. When wipers fail during a rain or snow storm, your visibility quickly drops to zero. Defective wipers could lead to a severe accident when drivers cannot see in front of them.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Defective Auto Parts?

If a defective car part in your vehicle or another driver’s vehicle leads to a serious accident, your attorney will investigate all parties involved in the manufacturing and distribution of that vehicle to determine who is liable. Some parties that might be found liable include:

Manufacturer of the Vehicle

The vehicle’s manufacturer, if the defective part was on the car when it was distributed to dealerships, could be automatically liable for any defective components in their vehicles. Manufacturers owe a duty of care to their customers. And through proper quality and safety control protocols, these defects should be caught and eradicated. Therefore, a manufacturer that allows a vehicle to leave their facility with a defective part could be named in a lawsuit.

Manufacturer of the Defective Component

If the vehicle manufacturer did not make the defective part, then the third party responsible for creating it could be liable. Companies that make auto parts are just as liable as the manufacturer of the vehicle itself because they must not only ensure their products are created in accordance to their specifications, but also that their products are safe.

Marketer of the Defective Part

Sometimes, the product is manufactured correctly, but the company that marketed that component did not include all warnings or proper instructions with their product. In this case, the marketer would be liable.

The Designer of the Defective Part

Auto parts manufactured correctly can be defective when their design is flawed. Flawed components can be serious safety hazards. And when a poorly designed component causes the crash, the designer can be held responsible.

Dealership or Mechanic That Installed the Defective Part

Products may be designed and manufactured correctly. But when they are installed, something goes wrong. In this instance, the mechanic or dealership that installed the component incorrectly would be liable for your injuries.

Severe Injuries Associated with Defective Vehicle Accidents

Defective components can turn minor accidents into catastrophic incidents. Car accident victims could suffer from long-term, debilitating injuries when parts like airbags, brakes, or even seatbelts fail to work.

Some of the more common injuries seen in a defective part case include:

  • Lacerations
  • Bone fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Amputations
  • Disfigurement

Anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident, whether a defective component was involved or not, should seek medical treatment right away. Some injuries, like soft tissue damage, can take several hours to days to show. Starting treatment early is critical not only for your health, but also in the event that you file an injury case later.

Potential Damages in a Defective Car Part Accident Case

An accident caused by a defective car part could leave you in financial strain. You cannot work while you recover from your injuries, but that does not stop the medical bills and your living costs from quickly draining your bank account. You did not cause the accident, so why should you have to deal with the financial aftermath of that incident?

An attorney will work hard to help remove that financial burden, and they will negotiate with insurance companies and defense attorneys to reach a settlement that covers your damages. Damages are not just your medical costs either. This compensation helps cover the financial and non-financial losses that stem from your accident:

  • Medical expenses (including any future medical fees)
  • The cost to replace or repair your vehicle
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity if you no longer can work
  • Compensation for your pain, suffering, and any permanent impairment
  • Punitive damages

Note that punitive damages only occur in cases of extreme negligence. Courts use punitive damages to punish the defendant for their acts and to serve as an example to others in the industry so that they do not commit the same act.

For families that lose a loved one in a crash caused by defective auto parts, a wrongful death attorney can help. While no amount of money could reverse the loss, compensation can be obtained to ease the financial strain from that loss.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today

Fortunately, those who are injured in an accident caused by a defective vehicle part can recover their losses and hold manufacturers responsible. In these instances, recovery could be substantial. To protect your rights and explore your options, speak with an attorney that has experience handling product liability claims involving defective motor vehicles.

Speak with an attorney today from Malman Law. We can meet with you without obligation. Schedule your free case evaluation now at (888) 625-6265 or contact us online to get started.

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