Automotive parts manufacturers are held to a much high standard because each part must work in conjunction with other parts to ensure that vehicles function properly and safely. Most companies comply, although some have had more issues than others when it comes to defective car parts.
According to the U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety, “defects” are defined as design, performance, or material flaws that, when uncorrected, fail to conform to government standards. If too many parts get shipped to retail locations and sold, or are passed to automobile assembly plants, the end result could be catastrophic.
The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. represents individuals who have been hurt in accidents caused by defective car parts in Atlanta. If you were injured or someone you love was killed in an accident where a flaw in the airbags, brakes, tires, or any other automotive component was the root cause, contact our Atlanta car accident lawyers immediately for a free claim review and advice about your legal options.
Common Types of Automotive Defects
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the following defects can impact driver safety, and should be immediately addressed if found:
- Malfunctioning power steering components and others directly associated with the steering column
- Poorly crafted fuel components that could cause fires or cause the vehicle to explode while in motion.
- Sticky or otherwise cracked accelerator components
- Cracking or exposed belting in tires, which causes drivers to lose control
- Malfunctioning transfer cases or shifters that could cause vehicles to go into “Park” or “Reverse” without warning
- Defective engine cooling blades which may break off and cause injury while being serviced at home
- Defects in windshield wiper motors that cause the blades to stop working
- Seatbelts that fail to keep the occupant restrained
- Airbags that won’t deploy or cause serious injury when deployed
- Faulty wiring systems that may cause the vehicle to lose illumination or cause a fire
- Bad wiring or poor craftsmanship in ignition switches
Since 1966, roughly 66 million tires have been recalled, and over 380 million automotive products have been recalled all together. Many of these products have caused injury or death.
Mechanical Failures that Cause Accidents
While unsafe driving is primarily what leads to a car accident, there can be other reasons for a crash. Even if a driver practices safe driving habits, a mechanical problem can cause them to lose control of their vehicle. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of mechanical failures that cause auto accidents.
If the brakes aren’t functioning properly on your vehicle, you may not be able to slow down or stop suddenly if needed. Bad brakes are responsible for about 20% of car accidents that are related to mechanical failure; most of them are rear-end collisions. Faulty brakes might be related to worn-out or leaky brake lines, worn-out brake pads, and discs, or even a malfunctioning Antilock Brake System.
To prevent issues with your braking system, be sure to have the vehicle’s brakes checked every 30,000 miles. Most brake pads will start to wear out significantly after that mileage.
Faulty Headlights or Taillights
If you can’t see your surroundings or other drivers cannot see you, an accident is bound to happen. Functioning headlights and taillights are essential for nighttime driving, inclement weather, or during other low-visibility conditions. Vehicle lights help drivers see the road and other vehicles, as well as potential hazards. Lights also make other, nearby drivers aware that you’re braking, turning, or making a lane change. When you cannot see or signal, you’re at risk of hitting another vehicle or getting rear-ended or sideswiped.
Be sure to regularly check all of your vehicle’s exterior lights, to ensure that they’re working properly. Also, if you notice a headlight or taillight out, fix or replace it as soon as possible.
Faulty Steering or Suspension System
Another common cause of accidents due to mechanical failure is a faulty steering or suspension system. If your vehicle’s steering or suspension system fails, you may lose control of the car. You may not be able to steer the vehicle and yourself out of harm’s way. Steering problems can lead to serious accidents with catastrophic or even deadly injuries.
The best way to prevent steering or suspension system issues is to take your car in for regular maintenance checks. Have your mechanic inspect the system. You may even want to ask for a OBD-II system check, which is an evaluation of the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics system to check for any error codes.
Faulty tires are one of the most common causes of vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failure is to blame for as much as 35% of all car accidents due to mechanical failure. If a driver has worn-out tires on their vehicle, the tires are more likely to slip and it will take longer for the vehicle to brake. The driver will have less control over the vehicle and are more likely to hydroplane. Tire blowouts can also cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Blowouts happen when tires are worn out, underinflated, or have been punctured.
To avoid faulty tires, you should regularly check the tread level and the tire pressure. Have your mechanic check the alignment – poorly aligned wheels wear out faster.
Faulty Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers are crucial for safe driving. They help clear our windshield of rain, sleet, and other debris that’s blocking our line of vision. If the windshield wipers are worn out, broken, or otherwise not working properly, that means that we cannot see out the front window of our car. When we can’t see, we’re more likely to get into an accident.
Windshield wipers do wear out over time, so try to check them about once a month or if you notice that they’re not clearing the windshield as well as they used to. Replace any damaged wiper blades as soon as possible. Also, be sure that the windshield wiper motors are working properly and that there is plenty of windshield wiper fluid.
Other Mechanical Failures
While mechanical failures may not be the top cause of car accidents, they’re still a major contributing factor. If you don’t keep an eye on your vehicle, these issues could go undetected until it’s too late. It’s a good idea to watch your car’s temperature gauge; if your vehicle overheats or the cooling system malfunctions, your engine may fail. Be sure to regularly change the oil in the vehicle; the oil helps lubricate the metal parts in the engine. Without oil, the engine parts would scrape together, causing excess friction and overheating.
If your engine isn’t working properly, your vehicle is going to stop working and, ultimately, break down. If this happens suddenly, there’s a good chance that you’re going to lose control of the vehicle and get into an accident. The best protection against engine and other mechanical failures in regular, routine vehicle maintenance.
Claims for Injuries Caused by Defective Car Parts in Atlanta
Under Georgia law, product defects that cause serious injury or death can lead to a civil lawsuit. This means those injured or representing family members who lose their lives can seek money for losses associated with the defective products.
There are several starting points for attorneys who wish to file defective car parts claims on behalf of their client:
- A middleman. Although holding the middle link of the distribution chain accountable may seem worth a look, rarely will the logistics company be held liable unless they were so reckless that defects to the product were caused by mishandling.
- Parts manufacturer. The more likely scenario is holding the parts manufacturer accountable for passing the poor parts.
- Car manufacturer. Quality control should have spotted obvious parts flaws prior to the parts hitting assembly lines. If they failed to catch the error, and the cars get put into retail showrooms across America, there could be liability.
Once The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. identifies which source could be the liable party, we can move forward with your claim and pursue damages for the injuries you sustained.
Defective parts that cause car accidents should be recalled and replaced free of charge. More often than not, those recalls are issued long after hundreds of injuries and deaths have happened on Atlanta highways.
Recovering Damages in an Atlanta Car Defect Claim
According to Georgia statutes, provided there was an injury to more than just the product, and the statute of limitations has not expired, accident victims can pursue damages for losses caused by defective car parts. To settle the case fairly, both economic and noneconomic damages should be taken into account.
There are several statutes of limitations injured parties should be aware of:
- For filing Atlanta personal injury claims, the statute is two years.
- For damage to personal property, four years.
- The statute of repose. In this, the claimant will have 10 years from the time the manufacturer first produced the part or the time the product was first offered for sale, until the time of injury, to file their claim.
- For any wrongful death action, two years.
If you’re unsure what these statutes mean to your product liability claim, contact our firm.
Proving Your Car Defect Claim and Product Liability
In proving your car defect claim has merit, you may be required to present evidence that shows:
- Car parts identified as “defective” were excessively hazardous by virtue of design, creation, handling, or shipment of product.
- Because of this defect, you were injured.
- Your injuries occurred while using the product in its intended manner.
Several arguments may be used to provide further evidence of liability, including the manufacturer’s duty to warn others of foreseeable dangers arising from use of the product as it was designed.
Atlanta Crash Caused by a Defective Car Part? Contact Us
Defective car parts can cause more than injury to just one person. If the defect happens to be related to tires or fuel tanks, the outcome could cause a catastrophic accident out on the road. That’s why injured persons should retain an experienced Atlanta product liability attorney when they’ve been injured. Class actions are possible when more than one person suffers the same injury stemming from the same part.
The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. is here to stand up for you if a defective car part caused you harm. Contact our office immediately to schedule your free evaluation to learn more about your rights and legal options. We collect only when your case results in payment of compensation.
To learn more, call us today or reach out to us online.