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Can a Vehicle Manufacturer Be Liable for a Car Accident?

Federal standards require vehicle manufacturers to release automobiles that do not unreasonably endanger the safety of consumers. Unfortunately, for various reasons, not all manufacturers meet the specifications. As a result, substandard vehicles are released into the market. The manufacture or design defects of these automobiles increase the risk of consumers getting into accidents.

When a vehicle crashes because of a critical system failure, people can be seriously or fatally injured. They may also suffer extensive financial losses and expenses. If you are a victim of an accident resulting from a vehicle malfunction, you may be entitled to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or other parties in the chain of distribution to seek compensation. Because of the difficulties in proving that a design or manufacturing defect led to your crash, retain the services of a personal injury attorney to assist with your case.

At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we help the people of Kansas City pursue compensation and justice following accidents caused by defective products. Contact us by calling (888) 398-2277 today.

Duty to Release a Safe Vehicle

Under federal safety standards, automobile manufacturers have a duty to release safe products. The safety standards apply to vehicles' design, construction, and performance.

They affect the overall design of the automobile itself as well as the components, such as:

  • Brakes,
  • Tires,
  • Lighting,
  • Airbags, and
  • Seatbelts.

The standards facilitate the safe operation of the vehicle and the proper functioning of safety features to protect consumers in the event of an accident.

When manufacturers do not adhere to (or are lax in adhering to) the federal requirements, they could design or construct vehicles that pose a risk to consumers’ safety. Because automobiles are produced using the same processes and components, many faulty cars can be put into the market, endangering the lives of hundreds or thousands of people. The manufacturers may be liable for damages resulting from their products.

Common Types of Vehicle Defects

Vehicles may be recalled when they have defects in their design or construction and do not meet federal safety standards. If a manufacturer identifies a flaw in an automobile or its components, it must notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), consumers, and dealerships. It must also issue a recall and remedy the issue at no cost to the consumer. In some cases, the NHTSA mandates that a manufacturer recall certain vehicles if the agency is alerted of a safety problem.

Although a recall may be issued, that does not necessarily mean that problem vehicles are taken off the road before accidents occur. Design or manufacture defects can cause crashes before the manufacturer has acted.

Common types of vehicle malfunctions that can lead to an accident include:

  • Accelerator control defects: If the accelerator breaks or gets stuck, the driver cannot safely operate the car.
  • Airbags defects: Airbags are supposed to deploy when the vehicle makes impact with an object to keep passengers from striking the vehicle's hard interior surfaces. A faulty design could prevent them from deploying or deploying at the wrong time.
  • Braking system defects: When brakes fail, drivers cannot stop their cars, causing them to collide with other vehicles, structures, or people.
  • Computer system defects: Many critical systems in a car are controlled by a computer system. If the system malfunctions, drivers could lose control of the vehicle.
  • Door latch mechanism defects: If a door does not properly latch after being closed, it could open while the car is moving.
  • Fuel system defects: Problems with the fuel system can cause leaks, which can lead to vehicle fires.
  • Seatbelt defects: Broken latches or tension detectors can prevent the seatbelt from securing vehicle occupants in a crash.
  • Steering component defects: Issues with the steering components could cause the driver to lose full or partial control of the vehicle.

Pursuing a Product Liability Claim

Victims of accidents caused by vehicle malfunctions may be able to file a product liability lawsuit to recover compensation. They may not be limited to taking legal action only against the automobile manufacturer. They could also pursue a claim against any entity in the chain of distribution, including the parts manufacturer, dealership, or shipper.

Generally, a product liability claim involving a faulty car is based on a:

  • Design defect: A problem exists with the design of the automobile or its components; or
  • Manufacturing defect: The issue is not with the design but with the construction of the vehicle.

When pursuing a product liability lawsuit, the burden rests on the injured party to prove that the manufacturer or other entities are liable for losses and expenses. They must show that the faulty design or construction of the car was the proximate cause of their injuries and they suffered compensable damages as a result. That is why individuals must collect and preserve as much evidence as possible soon after the accident.

Consult with an Attorney

Proving that you are owed compensation following an accident caused by a defective vehicle can be challenging. It requires a thorough investigation and an understanding of how these cases work. A personal injury lawyer can examine your situation and help build your legal strategy.

To learn more about your options for seeking financial recovery in Kansas City, please call Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online today.