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What Should I Know About Accidents Caused by Defective Car Parts?

A car has numerous working parts. Many of the parts are made by automobile manufacturers, while others are produced by outside suppliers. Quality, reliable components require research, development, raw materials, and a variety of manufacturing processes. However, things can go wrong at any link of the supply chain, which can cause serious car accidents.

Automotive defects can affect the inner or outer components of a car and can cause the car to fail at any given time. Consumers who purchase new or used cars expect that every part of their vehicle is in good working order. They may not realize that auto parts can have inherent design flaws or may have been manufactured or installed incorrectly. Parts have been known to fail, causing serious consequences to drivers, passengers, and others on the road.

What are Common Auto Defects?

After a car accident occurs, the source of the accident is not always clear. In cases of defective auto parts, this information may not be revealed until an investigation is completed. There may be problems with ignition switches, fuel systems, the transmission, or engine parts. Aftermarket parts can also be defective or installed incorrectly. The following are common auto defects:

Steering, Acceleration, and Brake Parts: Power steering systems can fail, resulting in an unexpected change in the amount of force needed to steer properly. A sudden, unintended acceleration makes a driver lose control of their vehicle, which can be quite terrifying. When brakes stop working, cars can also end up in devastating crashes.

Airbags: Airbags are an important safety feature designed to cushion impact from accidents, but they can also cause injuries. Sometimes, they do not deploy when they are supposed to or deploy when they should not. They have also been known to inappropriately inflate; when this happens, people can be seriously hurt or killed.

Roofs and Roll Bars: These days, the majority of cars and trucks must comply with safety standards by having roll bars. These are for rollover protection, but they can also fail. When this happens, the vehicle can rollover, which may cause the roof to collapse.

Seat Belts: An essential component of vehicle safety, the modern three-point seat belt was invented in 1959. They are not foolproof, though, and can malfunction, unlatch, or break during an accident.

Tires: Improper tread wear and defects can lead to reduced gas mileage, loss of steering, and tire explosions. The latter is especially dangerous and can cause a driver to suddenly lose control of the vehicle.

Electrical Systems: In worst-case scenarios, defective electrical systems can cause fires, which can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

How Do I Know If There is a Recall on a Car or Auto Part?

Auto part safety recall notices can be sent by vehicle manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car owners whose vehicles are subjected to these recalls are supposed to receive notices, but this does not always happen. Since the recall program was established, more than 390 million automobiles, 66 million auto parts, and 46 million tires were recalled. Manufacturers are expected to maintain databases of all registered owners who purchased their cars for this reason, but many slip through the cracks when mistakes are made, cars are resold, and people move. The NHTSA has an automobile safety recall database where an owner can enter their car’s VIN number and check for safety recalls over the past 15 years.

How is Liability Established?

In defective car part suits, plaintiffs must show that the manufacturer’s negligence led to their injuries. It can be challenging to prove negligence in these cases, especially since some companies produce different lines of products. Furthermore, some parts can trigger accidents while others can make accidents much worse. To prove strict liability, the injured party must prove that the car part was somehow defective, and that this defect caused their injuries and property damage. There may also be a case for breach of express or implied warranty; some parts have specific guarantees. If there is no warranty, the state where the accident occurred may have minimum standards that certain products, including auto parts, must meet.

What Parties May be Responsible?

Automobile part manufacturers are responsible for building safe products. When parts fail because they were not constructed properly, these companies may be liable for car accidents. For manufacturers to be found at-fault, plaintiffs must establish that the particular defect existed during the manufacturing process and did not occur after it was out of the company’s hands. This liability may also be attributed to whoever designed, installed, and marketed the part; one or more parties may be liable. It is possible that the part in question was manufactured correctly, even though it had inherent design flaws. Even if it was designed and manufactured the right way, it may have been incorrectly installed by a dealership or mechanic.

Also, after-market products, such as suspension systems, taillights, headlights, and tires, from body shops may not be manufactured or installed to the same standards as the original parts. In some cases, consumers are persuaded to purchase these parts and end up making bad decisions. Companies that market auto parts but neglect to include required instructions and warnings may also be held responsible. In cases like these, multiple parties may be at-fault for the auto accident.

Class Action Suits

It is possible that there is an existing class action lawsuit for the defective auto part. Joining this could be an option for the plaintiff. If there are significant personal injuries and the situation is different from the class action suit members, filing a separate suit may be indicated. Products liability claims can be complex, and consulting with an experienced products liability lawyer may be the best course of action.

How Can I Build a Case?

Once a plaintiff decides to move forward, the first step is to prove that the car had a defective part that made the car unreasonably dangerous. Then, the existence of a causal relationship between the part and the accident must be shown and that the accident was the reason for the plaintiff’s injuries. At this point, the investigation will begin to focus on the parties responsible for creating the defect. Next, the lawyer and client will determine the monetary damages that are appropriate to compensate for the injuries incurred. In extreme cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish at-fault parties.

Plaintiffs need to establish the extent of their injuries and property damage by gathering relevant information and documents. However, it is important to leave the vehicle untouched until it can be examined by a licensed inspector since moving anything around could be damaging to a case. Information about the automobile’s purchase and any maintenance or repair work done before the crash should also be provided. The scope of the plaintiff’s injuries can be shown through the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Doctor’s reports
  • Treatments and medications
  • Insurance payments
  • Photographs
  • Witness interviews
  • Details about lost wages
  • Any additional information related to pain and suffering

These cases are often difficult, so it is important to contact a lawyer right away to start a case.

Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Protect Those Injured by Defective Car Parts

Defective car parts can cause severe car accidents. If you think that your claim is valid, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Philadelphia products liability lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We can take on your case and obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.