How Can a Defective Product Cause a Car Accident?
While most car accidents result from driver error, other factors can lead to car accidents as well. This includes many different types of vehicle defects.
Cars are made up of hundreds of individual components. The failure of even a single component can potentially lead to a serious or fatal accident.
When Is a Vehicle Component Defective, and Why Is This Important?
What Constitutes a Vehicle Defect?
A vehicle component – or any type of product – is considered defective if it is unsafe for its intended use. There are two main types of defects that are relevant to car accidents:
- Design Defects – A vehicle component is considered to have a design defect if it is unsafe even when manufactured and used as intended. For example, if a brake caliper does not apply enough pressure to safely slow and stop a vehicle, then the brake caliper could suffer from a design defect. Alternatively, if an accelerator pedal is prone to getting stuck because of its size or shape, this could also reflect a design defect.
- Manufacturing Defects – A vehicle component is considered to have a manufacturing defect if it becomes dangerous due to an issue during the manufacturing process. For example, if a properly designed engine gasket cracks during installation at the factory, this would be considered a manufacturing defect. If a manufacturer uses the wrong compound to make a tire or brake pad, this would be considered a form of manufacturing defect as well.
Some vehicle defects will create issues immediately. An issue with a vehicle’s accelerator pedal, for example, could lead to a crash the first time a driver gets behind the wheel. In other cases, however, the defect will only become dangerous over time.
Regardless of how or when a defect becomes dangerous, drivers and passengers have the same legal rights under Florida law (more on this below).
What Types of Vehicle Defects Can Cause Car Accidents?
Vehicle defects are far more common than most people realize. Each year, automotive manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issue numerous recalls for defective components.
Some of these defects are relatively minor. Others, however, have the potential to cause dangerous accidents.
For example, if any of the following components are defective, this could significantly increase the risk of a driver losing control and suffering serious or fatal injuries in a crash:
- Cooling systems
- Electrical systems
Defects will often affect large numbers of vehicles. This is particularly true of design defects, which can affect all vehicles in which the defective components are installed.
Depending on the circumstances, manufacturing defects may affect smaller numbers of vehicles. However, issues with the manufacturing process can lead to every vehicle coming off of the assembly line suffering from the same defect.
Why Is It Important If a Vehicle Component Is Defective?
If a vehicle component is defective, this has significant implications under Florida law. While most car accident claims are governed by the law of negligence, product defect claims are frequently governed by the law of strict liability.
In cases involving negligence, recovering financial compensation requires proof that someone else was at fault. For example, in order to seek fault-based auto insurance coverage (as opposed to “no fault” personal injury protection (PIP) coverage), you need to be able to prove that the other driver made a mistake that led to the collision.
But, in cases involving strict liability, proof of negligence is not required. If you were injured in an accident caused by a vehicle defect, proving that a defect existed and your injuries were directly caused by the flaw is enough to establish a claim for financial compensation. You do not need to be able to prove that the automotive manufacturer was negligent in order to recover your accident-related losses.
What Should You Do If You Suspect a Vehicle Defect Caused a Car Accident?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident that you suspect may have been caused by a vehicle defect, what should you do? If you still have the vehicle, you should take plenty of photos before the vehicle gets repaired or taken to salvage.
You should also contact a Florida car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A thorough investigation will be necessary to prove the existence of the defect, and getting started promptly could be essential to securing a financial recovery.
Speak with a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Today
Multiple factors can lead to serious auto accidents. Although the driver of the other vehicle is typically at fault for the crash, it is crucial not to overlook defective parts and components, as well as other potential causes.
Do you have questions about seeking financial compensation for a vehicle defect? If so, contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (407) 712-7300 today. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.