How to Recover When a Defective Car Part Causes Your Crash Injuries

Defective vehicle components can injure passengers or cause a car crashWhat if your car accident was not caused by another driver’s negligence, but instead by a defective or malfunctioning part of your car? What would you do then? How would you protect your recovery?

What Can Go Wrong…and Who Could Be Liable

Car accidents caused by malfunctioning parts can happen for any number of reasons. There may be a flaw in the design of the car that increases the risk of an accident, an error during vehicle assembly, or a faulty part of the vehicle that causes a crash to occur or have more serious consequences than usual. Some examples of vehicle malfunctions include:

  • Airbag malfunctions, such as failure to deploy or unintended deployment.
  • Transmission failures.
  • Electrical defects (including unintended acceleration or headlight malfunction).
  • Defective seat belts.
  • Design flaws, such as improper placement of the gas tank contributing to explosions.
  • Defective ignition switches that cause sudden stalling.
  • Defective tires that increase the risk of blowout.
  • Malfunctioning anti-lock brake systems.
  • Defective steering components, such as wheels or axles.
  • Malfunctioning extras, such as mirrors, floor mats, cup holders, navigation systems, etc.

These problems may occur because of the:

  • Automobile designer. In some cases, the automobile itself can have a fatal design flaw (such as fuel tank placement in the Ford Pinto) that can pose a significant danger to the driver.
  • Component manufacturer. Some automakers bring in third-party elements for their vehicles, such as airbags, seat belts, or even whole electrical systems and those third party components may be defective.
  • Assembly teams. There may not be a problem with any piece of the car, but an issue develops when the parts are placed together or when they are put together incorrectly.

If any of these things happen in a car that you are driving and you are hurt as a result, then you may be able to recover damages if you can prove what happened.

You Will Need Evidence to Recover Damages

The kind of evidence that you need depends on what happened to you. Below we consider what would happen if your car had a tire-related defect; however, the same rules apply to many different auto defects. Generally, you need to gather evidence about the design process, the manufacturing process, and the assembly process to determine if there was a defect with your car.

Tire-Related Defects

If you are in a crash and you believe that a defective tire may have caused the accident then you can expect that the tire manufacturer is going to try to blame someone else for the accident. The company may blame a driver or a maintenance person, for example. However, a full investigation can determine exactly what happened and provide you with the necessary evidence to prove your claim. This may include the tire manufacturer’s records, a comparison of different types of tires, and information from those who made the tires.

The website smartmotorist.com reports that tread separation is the most common type of tire failure. Tread separation has been implicated as a factor in rollover crashes. The tread usually separates because of poor bonding during the manufacturing process, which can be caused by the following factors:

  • A tire material made with a formula that doesn’t bond well.
  • Contaminants in the tire, such as undispersed ingredients; products that should not be used, such as polypropylene (used to separate the rubber); water; and unrelated materials, such as food wrappers and cigarette butts.
  • Undervulcanization.
  • Lack of tackiness from using old ingredients.
  • Trapped air.
  • Improperly sized strips used to build the tire.

If a driver with average skills cannot control a vehicle that has experienced a tire failure, then the driver cannot be held responsible for the ensuing accident, but the tire manufacturer can be held responsible.

Does Your Car Have a Defect?

Despite doing extensive research into what new or used car to buy, it is possible that your vehicle—or a part of your vehicle—will be recalled after you purchase it. You need to be aware of every recall so that you can take prompt action to have you car fixed before it causes a problem or fails to protect you in an accident.

Here’s how to stay informed about vehicle recalls:

  • Go to the car manufacturer’s website and enter your vehicle identification number.
  • Go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website and enter your vehicle identification number.

Of course, you have a lot to do every day and it can be difficult to remember to check these websites regularly, especially when your car is running well and there have been no recent news reports indicating trouble. For this reason, you may want to sign up to be notified directly if there is a recall of your vehicle or its parts. To do that, you can:

  • See if the car manufacturer offers such a service if you register your car.
  • Download the Safer Car Mobile App. This free smartphone app will notify you directly if there is a recall impacting your car.
  • Sign up to receive e-mail alerts from the NHTSA.

These steps are all important, but they may not prevent every car accident caused by a manufacturing defect.

How to Protect Your Right to a Fair Recovery

If you’ve been hurt or your loved one has died because of a malfunctioning car part, then it is important to gather evidence and to speak with an experienced lawyer about protecting your right to a fair recovery. Your recover could include compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other expenses. Please contact us anytime via this website or at 888-450-4456 to learn more.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky