Defective Vehicle Lawsuits
Injured as a Result of a Car, Truck, or Other Vehicle Defect?
The average car weighs over 4,000 pounds and can easily reach speeds upwards of 100 mph. At such high speeds, vehicles can cause substantial injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in vehicle accidents. While many car accidents are the result of driver error, others are caused by defective auto parts, dangerous vehicle design, or other manufacturing errors that cause a vehicle to malfunction.
Car makers and designers have a duty to thoroughly inspect and test their vehicles before releasing them into the market so as to prevent harm to consumers. In the event that you are injured in a car crash due to a defective part or design flaw on the part of the manufacturer, distributor or supplier, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit.
Common Types of Motor Vehicle Defects
For a motor vehicle to operate properly, thousands of tiny mechanical and electrical parts must work in coordination with each other. When one of these parts fails, the results can be disastrous. For instance, if defective brakes fail as a vehicle nears a stop sign, a T-Bone collision could occur, and the manufacturer could be held liable for any resulting car accident injuries. Likewise, if a faulty tire causes an SUV rollover accident, the tire manufacturer could be held responsible.
Lawsuits over defective or dangerously designed vehicles can have many causes, such as:
- Airbags that don’t deploy, or deploy at the wrong time
- Weaknesses in the vehicle body or frame
- Inadequate windshield strength
- Faulty brakes or brake pads
- Defective tires or tread separation
- Problems with the steering system or steering components
- Failure of the seatback (vertical part of the seat)
- Automatic transmission problems
- Radiator leaks and other leaks which could cause fires
In the day-to-day operation of motor vehicles, drivers depend on their car or truck to operate properly. When a manufacturing defect causes an unexpected vehicle failure, tragedy can result.
Dangerous Design: Rollovers and Crashworthiness
Apart from lawsuits over defective car parts, there is another class of product liability claim made against manufacturers for motor vehicles which have an inherently dangerous design. Usually, when this is discovered, it leads to a newsworthy recall of that make and model of car. A recent example of this is Ford’s recall of sedan and SUV models which had transmission problems whereby the car might not be in the gear that the driver sets it to.
Another design flaw, especially common in top-heavy SUVs, is vehicles which are prone to rollover accidents. This was the case with Toyota’s Lexus GX460, which had faulty stability control. In some situations where a driver would make a turn too fast and then let go of the accelerator, the car’s rear would slide, causing it to go nearly horizontal and putting it at risk of a rollover. The stability control mechanism on this vehicle was defective, thus putting people’s lives in danger.
Another crucial element of vehicle design is how well occupants are protected in the event of a crash, sometimes called a vehicle’s ” crashworthiness.” As technology advances and new crash safety standards are issued, car manufacturers must continue to improve the crashworthiness of their cars. When a vehicle does not comply with federal regulations regarding crashworthiness, and an individual is injured as a result, the manufacturer may be held liable due to their failure to uphold a reasonable standard of care.
In the unfortunate case that an auto accident does occur, manufacturers are also responsible for ensuring that occupants are kept reasonably safe from a “second impact,” or the collision between the occupants and the inside of the vehicle which occurs after a car accident. For example, in many car accidents, the driver or passengers are ejected from the vehicle. If the ejection is linked back to insufficient roof strength or a defective seatbelt, the injured parties can seek compensation from the manufacturer or the faulty product. Similarly, when an air bag fails to deploy or deploys at the wrong time, the manufacturer can be held financially liable for injuries sustained during the second impact.
Case Study: $3.8 Million for a Defective Vehicle Step
In a defective vehicle case, Block O’Toole & Murphy was able to secure a $3,800,000 settlement for a delivery driver who was injured when a truck pull-out step broke while he was standing on it.
At the time of the accident, our client had just finished a delivery and was performing an inventory on the beverages remaining in his truck. He was using a pull-out step to look into his truck, when the step gave out, causing him to fall backwards into another truck. As a result of the accident, our client suffered injuries to his cervical spine.
This truck was specifically designed and manufactured for the distribution of beverage products and had been in use for about 20 years when the accident occurred. It was anticipated that the step would be used for workers to stand on while handling products, and there was no weight restriction or anticipated shelf life for the step.
The Defendant company, which built and sold the trailer in question, was sued on the grounds that there had been a manufacturing defect when the aluminum step was welded together. During the discovery process (or the legal proceeding by which evidence is obtained), our team uncovered documents which revealed that this step had failed on other trucks built by the Defendant company, and that they were aware of a manufacturing defect which had caused the step to fail.
Filing a Defective Vehicle Lawsuit
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by design flaws or defective parts in your vehicle, you may be able to recover compensation. In order to successfully file a defective vehicle lawsuit, three points need to be proven:
- That there is a dangerous defect present
- That the vehicle was being used as intended (for example, if somebody is injured while illegally riding in the bed of a pickup truck, this would represent improper use rather than a manufacturing defect)
- That the vehicle hadn’t been substantially altered from the condition it was sold in
If all three of these conditions are true, it may be possible to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor or supplier of your motor vehicle.
Contact an Experienced NYC Auto Defect Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective car part, our New York auto accident attorneys may be able to pursue compensation on your behalf. Call 212-736-5300 for a FREE, no-obligation case review. Serving Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and all of New York City and New York State.