When Vehicle Accidents Are Caused by Defective Products

Was a police report filed?
  • A vehicle defect is not always just an inconvenience. In some cases, a defective part or equipment in a vehicle can cause a serious accident. If your vehicle has a defective part or product that led to an accident and injury, you may be able to file a product liability or personal injury lawsuit.

    Vehicle Accident and Recall Basics

    It is common for vehicles to have problems with various parts and products. That is why auto recalls are frequently ordered to ensure safety on American roads. As traffic crashes are the top killer of Americans who are 34 or younger, auto recalls play an important part in making our roads safer.

    Since 1966, nearly 300 million motor vehicles, 43 million tires and 84 million pieces of auto equipment have been recalled to correct safety problems.

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 gives the U.S. government the authority to set vehicle safety standards and to require auto manufacturers to recall vehicles with defective or dangerous equipment. Some experts estimate that 3.5 million auto deaths were averted due to the passage of this law. Usually, a defect related to safety on a motor vehicle features equipment that is a risk to safety and could exist in a group of cars, trucks or SUVs that have the same design or manufacture.

    Some of the common safety problems that have led to recalls and accidents in the past are:

    � Parts of the steering system that can break during operation, leading to loss of control of the vehicle

    � Accelerator controls break or stick, leading to uncontrolled acceleration

    � Wheels that break or crack, causing loss of control

    � Windshield wiper assemblies that malfunction, which can cause visibility problems in adverse weather conditions

    � Seats that fail during regular use, which can lead to serious injuries in an accident

    � Wiring systems that short out and cause fires or loss of illumination

    � Air bags that may deploy improperly or at inappropriate times and can cause serious or fatal injuries.

    Many recalls are begun by the auto manufacturer, but they also may be ordered by the U.S. government. If your vehicle is under recall, you should receive a letter by first class mail that will explain the possible safety hazards and what you should do to have the problem fixed.

    Usually, the manufacturer will request that you bring the vehicle to an authorized dealer in your city to have the safety problem fixed at no cost to you. It is important to heed these recall warnings; if you do not and are injured by a future product or equipment failure affected by that recall, you may have no legal recourse.

    Product Defect Injury Claims

    If you have an auto accident that is related to a product, part or equipment failure, you do not need to prove that the company was negligent. Instead, liability in auto defect cases is based upon strict liability. No matter what steps the auto manufacturer or dealership claims they take to make the vehicle safe, you may file a strict liability claim based upon the defect, IF all of these conditions are present:

    � The automobile or a part or component had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous and injured you. The defect may have come during the design stage, during manufacture, through shipment or handling, or through not warning consumers.

    � The defect led to an injury while you were using the vehicle in a way that it was intended to be used. For instance, if you used your sports car to drive off-road and you were injured, you may not be able to obtain financial compensation.

    � The vehicle was not substantially changed from its original condition when it was sold to you.

    The manufacturer may attempt to show that you were aware of the product defect but chose to use the vehicle anyway. This may be established through showing the condition of the vehicle or from your description of how you used it.


    If you were injured by a defective product or part on your vehicle during normal use and operation, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This injury could involve a part, product or equipment that was under recall, or it may not. You should consult with an experienced product liability attorney in your area to determine if you may have a valid legal claim.

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