There are millions of motor vehicle accidents in the US every year, and the vast majority of them are caused by some type of negligence. While there are uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather that may contribute to a crash, a Stanford University report found that roughly 90% of all auto accidents are caused by some type of human error.
With most vehicle crashes, the initial presumption is that one or more of the drivers involved is at fault. However, there are some accidents in which an outside party could be responsible. One such example is when an accident results from a faulty vehicle or vehicle part. When this is the case, an injured person may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the defective product.
Common Types of Vehicle Defects
About 2% of all auto accidents are caused by vehicle defects. And although accidents caused by defective auto parts make up a small percentage of the total number of crashes, this still equates to about 120,000 accidents every year.
Some of the more common auto defects that could contribute to a vehicle accident include:
- Steering Systems: Virtually every new car today comes with power steering. But if the power steering system fails, it can make it nearly impossible to control the direction of the vehicle.
- Computer and Electrical Systems: New vehicles are more computerized than ever, and the systems rely on numerous components that need to function properly in order for the vehicle to run. Computer and electrical malfunctions can cause a vehicle to shut down, and some electrical problems can even cause the vehicle to start on fire.
- Fuel Systems: Defects within the fuel system can cause leakage, which makes the vehicle susceptible to fires and explosions, especially during a crash.
- Accelerators: A sticky or otherwise malfunctioning accelerator can cause the car to accelerate on its own. This can obviously become a very dangerous situation when the driver has a lot of trouble stopping the vehicle from unintentional acceleration.
- Braking Systems: Similar to the problem with acceleration, a defective braking system is another scary problem that could prevent the driver from being able to stop the vehicle.
- Tires: Defective tires could fall apart, separate, or blow out, all of which could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Airbags: Airbags are important safety features that are supposed to provide the driver and the front seat passenger with a cushion in the event of a crash. But a defective airbag could deploy when it is not supposed to, or it could fail to deploy when it is supposed to. In either case, this can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to vehicle occupants.
- Seat Backs: Although a relatively rare occurrence, a seatback that collapses backwards during a crash can cause back seat passengers (oftentimes children) to get crushed.
Liability for Accidents Caused by Defective Auto Parts
When you purchase a vehicle or vehicle part, you enter into an implicit agreement with the seller that the product you are purchasing meets the minimum safety standards. When the product fails to meet these standards and someone is injured as a result, they have the right to seek compensation against the manufacturer and any other party within the product’s supply chain. This might be a strict liability claim, or it could be a breach of express warranty or implied warranty.
Product liability claims are very complicated, and it is very important to work with skilled and knowledgeable attorney to maximize your chances of a successful outcome. The existence of a vehicle defect may not be obvious at the time of the crash, and a thorough investigation is necessary to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong and who may be at fault.
A good place to start is to check and see if the vehicle or any of its parts has been subject to a recall. There are tens of millions of auto product recalls each year, so there is always a chance that this is true in your case. That said, many recalls do not happen until there are several accidents and severe injuries that result from the defective product, so your accident could be one of the first involving this particular issue.
Your lawyer will work closely with you to identify the unique facts and pieces of evidence that are specific to your case, so they can determine the best path forward toward recovering maximum compensation while holding those responsible fully accountable.
Injured in an Auto Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Experienced Legal Guidance
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle crash that may have been caused by a defective auto part, Peake & Fowler is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!