Product Liability Claims Involving Defective Auto Parts
If you have sustained injuries following an accident involving a defective car, truck, SUV, ATV, motorcycle, or any other motor vehicle, you may be able to make a product liability claim to recover damages or pay your medical bills. Defects in the body or frame of a vehicle, its electrical system, brake system, suspension, and other areas can cause serious problems that could put the safety of drivers and passengers at risk. In recent years, the types of cases involving defective vehicles have included SUVs and ATVs prone to rollover, motorcycles that “wobble” at high speeds, and cars sold with inferior tires that are prone to blowouts.
TYPES OF DEFECTIVE VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIMS
There are two types of defective vehicle product liability claims:
- A vehicle or any of its parts may have manufacturing defects. In this case, the vehicle or certain of its parts have either been made incorrectly or have been compromised during shipment, at the dealership, or at a supply shop.
- A vehicle may have a dangerous design that contributes to the likelihood of an accident. Product liability claims in this category involve vehicles that are manufactured properly, but still pose a danger due to an unsafe design (for example, a tall SUV with an unreasonably high tip hazard). In many cases, these dangers may not even be discovered until after the vehicle has been on the market for some time.
WHAT KIND OF PROOF DOES MY CLAIM REQUIRE?
In order to sue for any damages or medical expenses incurred following an accident, a strict liability claim can be made based on the following conditions:
- The vehicle, or one of its parts, presented a hazard by containing an “unreasonably dangerous” defect that directly led to injury
- Injury was sustained while using the vehicle in the manner in which it was intended to be used
- The vehicle has not been substantially (meaning, in a manner that affects the vehicle’s performance) modified from the condition in which it was originally sold
It is not necessary to cite carelessness or negligence as a factor in your case in the same way it might be necessary for a different kind of personal injury claim. You must, however, identify any defendants that you plan to name in your case. These potential defendants will typically come from within the “chain of distribution” of your vehicle, and can include anyone from the manufacturer, parts manufacturer, dealership, supply shop, middle man or shipper, or, in certain cases, a used car dealer. Even if the defective vehicle did not belong to you (for example, if you had borrowed the vehicle, or if you were hit by someone else driving a vehicle with a defect), you may still have a valid claim.
Remember that the parties you intend to sue have defenses of their own, and they may try to shift the blame for your accident away from them and onto you. With proper representation, you can rest assured that every type of legal claim in your complaint will be used to protect you and your rights as an injured consumer. Product liability cases can be complex and often require the testimony of experts, so don’t leave the fate of your case to chance.