Not all car-related injuries come from an accident. Sometimes, you are hurt by the vehicle itself. This is an example of a defect in the product. When we think of personal injury law, we often imagine one person suing another for negligence. However, it is also possible to sue creators and sellers of defective products.
There are many ways you could be injured by a vehicle. Sometimes parts catch fire. Other times, errors in design can create a dangerous situation, such as a steering wheel that stops working. To prove that a car is defective, you must demonstrate at least one of three things: manufacturer error, defective design, or improper labeling.
In this claim, you are arguing that the product was built incorrectly. Someone made a mistake when putting the machine together, and you were injured as a result. This claim must involve a mistake. Something went wrong, and the final product did not work as intended.
There are many ways this could happen. The error could be as simple as insecure nuts and bolts, causing pieces of the car to dislodge. Perhaps one of the parts itself is bad. You may have breaks that aren’t applying enough pressure, and they aren’t stopping the wheels properly. Whatever the case, if the car is not functioning as intended, manufacturers can be held responsible.
On the surface, a design flaw appears very similar to a manufacturer error. They both involve something that was built improperly, causing injury to the consumer. There is, however, a subtle difference.
A design flaw involves the very engineering of the vehicle. Technically, nothing went wrong when it was manufactured. Everything works as intended, and all the cars were made the same way. The flaw lies in the design itself, not in a manufacturing mistake.
For example, consider a company that designs a very compact car. To save space, they move internal components close together. However, they miscalculated the heat that is generated by this proximity. Not long after the car’s release, reports of overheating begin to surface. Some consumers have burned themselves when trying to change the oil or washer fluid. These problems are not the result of bad parts or poor construction. This is a design flaw, where the car was poorly engineered, causing injury.
Improper labeling happens when a manufacturer fails to warn of danger associated with their products. This danger is something that the consumer does not expect. For example, most consumers are aware that electric saws are sharp and deadly, but they may not expect the item to overheat. When a product can harm you in unanticipated ways, the makers are obligated to provide sufficient warning.
Typically, car companies take great care to provide warnings. You can find stickers on different parts, and the manuals have pages of safety information. It is still possible, however, for them to be negligent, providing incomplete information to consumers. Mislabeling often happens when a car company tries to ignore a flaw. By law, vehicle manufacturers must recall cars when they discover a dangerous flaw. If they attempt to cover it up, they are not only breaking the law, they are also misleading consumers. They are pretending nothing is wrong and providing no warning of the dangers they found in their products.
Who Else Can Be Held Accountable?
In the above scenarios, we looked at ways manufacturers could be held accountable for defective products. There are, however, others you could hold responsible.
Recently, many electric cars containing LG Chem batteries were recalled. There was a defect that caused them to overheat and catch fire. The car companies took responsibility for the recalls, but the danger was not their fault. LG Chem produced bad batteries. This story is still unfolding, but some believe that the car companies will sue LG Chem for their losses. Additionally, anyone hurt by these flaming parts could sue LG Chem directly.
Car dealers have an obligation to sell working, safe products. This is why we have lemon laws across the U.S. Lemon laws are valuable, and they usually cover problems as needed. There are times, however, that a dealership intentionally sells a car that is egregiously dangerous. This can be particularly true of used cars. When this happens, lemon laws might not be enough. You may need to sue a dealership for misleading you into buying a dangerous machine, using mislabeling as grounds.
Everyone along the chain of making and distributing a car is responsible for the car’s safety. Like unethical dealers, distributors can damage a car while shipping it. Without properly alerting the dealers or consumers, they could present a deadly item for sale. When both the dealers and manufacturers seem free of wrongdoing, it takes the skills of a dedicated lawyer to uncover this kind of deception.
If you have been injured by a defective vehicle, reach out to Alex & Associates today. You can schedule a free consultation at (602) 483-6114 or online.