Any new car can be defective in a variety of ways. Perhaps the radio never properly connects to your Bluetooth device. Maybe the turn signal sticks whenever you use it. Such minor problems can certainly be called defects. Normally, these issues can be fixed by taking the car back to the dealer. They can easily replace or repair the problem. Depending on the age of the car, the dealer may not even charge you.
The story changes when it comes to defects that require legal action. Typically, lawsuits for defective products require a defect that poses a danger to the consumer. These are the same dangers that would demand a recall. Vehicles are recalled when they have inherently dangerous flaws. If the car stalls out or the brakes lock up, that would qualify. So would headlights that flicker out or don’t meet the regulations for brightness.
If you’ve been harmed by a defective car, you may need to file a lawsuit to receive financial compensation. There are three ways you can hold a manufacturer accountable for a dangerous, defective car.
CLAIM 1: MANUFACTURER ERROR
Sometimes things go wrong when companies make their products. Maybe a lot has loose screws, making the merchandise unstable. Perhaps a vital piece is missing, creating dangerous conditions. These are examples of a manufacturer error.
When errors such as these happen in car manufacturing, the result can be life-threatening. Cars can veer off-road, shut down in traffic, fail to stop on time, and so on.
CLAIM 2: DEFECTIVE DESIGN
In this type of defect, there is something wrong with the vehicle on an engineering level. Nothing went wrong during production. The car came out exactly as intended. However, there is a flaw in how the car was designed.
Perhaps, to save cost and space, the manufacturer put internal components too together too closely. It didn’t, however, take overheating into account, and vital components begin melting or malfunctioning as a result. This is an example of how the very design of an automobile, even without production errors, can be defective, causing a dangerous scenario.
CLAIM 3: MISLABELED PRODUCT
If you flip through the handbook that came with your car, you’ll find pages and pages of warnings. These are inserted to help keep the manufacturer safe from liability. Sometimes, however, they might miss something, and they fail to warn their consumers of inherent dangers associated with the car.
This is an example of mislabeling the product. Accusing a manufacturer of mislabeling goes far beyond mere oversight. In this claim, you’re alleging that the manufacturer was aware of this danger, and they intentionally didn’t warn the public.
Furthermore, the danger posed by the car must be unexpected or unreasonable. For instance, most people are aware that airbags come out fast and hard, and they can cause impact injuries. However, you wouldn’t expect an airbag to completely shatter your face, creating a need for reconstructive surgery. This would be an unreasonable injury caused by an airbag, and if a car company failed to warn you of this danger, they may be guilty of intentionally mislabeling their product.
DISCOVERING THE CAUSE OF THE DEFECT
If you have a dangerously defective car, you must rely on your attorney’s skills to investigate the root cause of the defect. Luckily, for most manufacturing errors, this can be easy. Manufacturing errors can also lead to recalls. Car companies have a reputation for keeping meticulous records, and they can usually trace these defects down to the exact plant and lot where the defect originated.
For a defective design, there may not be much need for investigation. First of all, the car company has probably been made aware of the issue, and they’ve likely issued a recall. Your attorney can simply cite these issues in your case.
A mislabeled product may be harder to prove, as it involves direct deceit on the part of the car company. Your legal team will need to request records from the car company. In this way, your lawyer will be doing the same kind of work the car company does with the other defect claims. They must scour documentation, proving exactly when the company became aware of the danger. Then they must investigate what steps the company did – or didn’t – take to fix the issue. Ultimately, they must also use documentation to prove that the company was aware of the danger and intentionally hid that knowledge from their customers.
If you’ve been injured by a defective vehicle, reach out to our firm for help. Call 918-492-7674 today for a free consultation, or contact us online.