Accident Law

Can You Sue For Injuries From a Vehicle Defect?

If another driver’s negligence injured you, the process of recovering compensation might be relatively straightforward compared to other injury cases. One car hit another: who is at fault for the hit? However, a car accident caused by a vehicle defect will raise more questions from you and the opposing insurance companies. Determining who is at fault, how to prove fault, and how much compensation is available are not clear-cut questions when a vehicle is defective.

Every car accident case is different. A car accident lawyer recognizes this and can provide expert legal guidance based on your unique situation. If you were injured, speaking with a car accident lawyer should be a top priority to navigate situations such as a defective vehicle.

Product Liability Attorney | Cleveland, OH | Lowe Scott Fisher

Who is at Fault in a Car Accident Caused by a Vehicle Defect?

In a car accident caused by a vehicle defect, the insurance companies can do a lot of finger-pointing to avoid paying fair compensation for your injury. By identifying the at-fault party through evidence and testimony, a personal injury lawyer can provide you with the best chance at preventing this situation. Several parties are to consider when placing a fault on a defective vehicle.

The Vehicle Manufacturer

Whether you or another party claim that your vehicle was defective and resulted in the crash, vehicle manufacturers are held to strict liability standards, and negligence is not applicable as it would be in other injury claims. This means that you do not have to prove a manufacturer was negligent; however, you do have to prove that a vehicle was defective and caused your accident under three conditions:

  1. The vehicle is “unreasonably dangerous” without proper caution warnings to consumers. This can include the design of the car or a certain component.
  2. The injury occurred when the vehicle was being used for its designed intention. If you were offroading in the desert in a two-wheel drive sports car, you probably would not be able to claim that a defect caused the accident.
  3. The vehicle has not “substantially” changed from its original condition. This means that wear and tear from use is not considered a defect, and an accident caused by a lack of maintenance or a significantly damaged part can not be blamed on the vehicle manufacturer.

Failure to Inspect

If the vehicle that caused your accident was a commercial vehicle, such as a truck, van, or bus, the party responsible for inspecting and maintaining the car could be liable for your injury. These vehicles undergo more frequent inspection and maintenance than private vehicles due to their heavy use on public roads. If a car was poorly inspected and maintained, or not at all, the company responsible for ensuring its fleet is safe and functional could be investigated through maintenance records, inspection reports, employee testimony, and driver statements. However, collecting this evidence is not easy. A truck accident lawyer can help subpoena evidence to prove their negligence and get you the compensation you deserve.

The Other Driver

The other driver in your accident will have to prove that their vehicle was defective through the same means. If they were at fault but could not prove that a vehicle defect was the cause of the accident, the case could be handled like a car accident claim instead of a product liability claim. Consult an injury lawyer in Chicago to determine how to approach your injury case.

Examples of Vehicle Defects

Some vehicle defects may be more obvious than others. Infamous examples of defective vehicles include the Ford Pinto in the 1970s, which would frequently burst into flames; subsequent lawsuits revealed that Ford knew the car was unsafe but could still produce a hefty profit even after the cost to manufacture and sell the vehicle combined with payouts for hundreds of injury lawsuits. Today, cars are frequently recalled for many reasons, from faulty locks and radios to more serious issues such as malfunctioning brakes and leaving gas tanks.

 

Examples of vehicle components that can be defective include:

  • The car body or frame is unsafely designed
  • Brakes, brake pads, or other mechanisms do not stop the car
  • The electrical system will short-circuit or cause fires
  • The exhaust system produces toxic gasses
  • Steering and suspension are ineffective
  • Seat belts, airbags, and other safety measures failed to activate and prevent an injury

A vehicle accident report, combined with an investigation from a mechanic, evidence from the accident scene, witness testimony, and more, can help determine what part of the defective vehicle malfunctioned. A product liability injury lawyer can help collect any possible evidence, present it in an insurance claim or injury lawsuit, and take on vehicle manufacturers and insurance adjusters who focus only on protecting their best interests. You deserve to have someone fight for you to recover the compensation you need.

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