Vehicle Defect Injuries: What You Should Know

Every vehicle owner occasionally hears about defective elements of vehicle. Sometimes they’re simple things that you never even notice, and you learn about the issue through a recall notice. You schedule your vehicle for maintenance, and the issue is resolved. Other times, the defective element is much more serious: airbags that don’t deploy, accelerators that stick and cause the vehicle to “run away,” tires that fall apart, and top-heavy designs that flip easily. These serious defects can lead to accidents, resulting in injury and death to drivers and passengers.

But what if your vehicle’s problem causes injury to you or a passenger? Below are some of the most common automotive defects and design flaws.

  • Air bags: an air bag deploys when it shouldn’t, or it doesn’t deploy when it should
  • Tires: the tread comes off of a tire while driving
  • Doors: a door opens during an accident, resulting in an occupant being thrown from the vehicle
  • Fuel Systems: a fuel system leaks, resulting in the vehicle catching on fire
  • Side-Impact Protection: a vehicle’s design provides inadequate side-impact protection
  • Roof Failure: a roof is not strong enough to keep passengers safe in a rollover accident
  • Vehicle Design: a vehicle’s design is top-heavy, resulting in frequent rollovers
  • Brakes and Accelerators: a pedal doesn’t work as intended, resulting in a car not stopping, slowing, or accelerating when necessary
  • Seat Belts: a seat belt doesn’t latch properly and releases during an accident

Unlike a two-car collision where you need to prove the other driver’s negligence to recover money, automotive manufacturers are controlled by “strict liability.” This means that a claim can be made if all three of the following are true:

  • The vehicle – or even just a part of a vehicle – had an “unreasonably dangerous” defect that caused the injury. This could be as a result of the manufacturing of the vehicle, or as a result of the design of the vehicle.
  • The defect resulted in an injury while the vehicle was being used for its intended purpose. In some cases, the manufacturer can be liable if it didn’t provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding the use of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle had not been changed substantially after it was purchased.

As with any vehicle accident case, it is important to collect photos or video of the accident scene, witness statements and contact information, police reports, and medical records. In the case of a vehicle defect case, the vehicle itself is an important piece of evidence. If the vehicle has to be towed, you can ask the towing company where it is being taken, and request that it is not destroyed.

If you have been injured in an accident that you believe is the result of a defective vehicle or vehicle part, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or lost wages. Please contact us today so that we can review your case. Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk has experience with product liability cases involving vehicles. It is imperative that you call immediately as there are critical issues that need to be addressed promptly such as preservation of the evidence. If the evidence is not properly preserved, you can lose your case on spoliation. Therefore, if you have such a case, call Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk immediately for a free consultation.

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