Jacksonville Auto Product Liability Attorneys
Defective Vehicles and Car Parts
Auto product defects result in thousands of recalls affecting millions of parts every year. Whether it is weak tires, failing engines, leaking hoses, or anything else, a defective part can compromise an entire vehicle and endanger every occupant. Unfortunately, many defects are undiscovered until they result in major accidents.
One of the first things that our firm always does in an auto accident case is to determine if it is also a product liability claim. We need to investigate how and why the accident happened to ascertain whether a product is defective, namely the automobile in its entirely or component parts such as the seat belt or tires. Our Jacksonville auto product liability accident lawyers are trained to recognize these defects in different types of accident. Almost any type of accident, whether in a vehicle, on the job, or even at-home, should be evaluated as a potential defective product claim.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident that you believe was caused by a defective auto part, know that you have the right to seek compensation from the company that created the dangerous product. Get in touch with the Jacksonville auto product liability lawyers at Farah & Farah by calling (904) 263-4610 and receive a no-cost consultation. With our help, you can find justice for your losses and compensation for your recovery.
Common Types of Defects
Some of the more common defects in a vehicle include tires. You may recall years ago the Ford and Firestone tire litigation from repeated tire failures that resulted in deaths and injuries. Many tire failures can be attributed to design and manufacturing defects. Tire makers are not always forthcoming with information for the consumer to use the tire safety. For example, if they are not serviced properly or replaced after their intended period of use, a tire can fail, blowout and detread. When that happens, a vehicle can lose control and easily roll over or collide with other vehicles, which is especially likely if the vehicle is a SUV and /or traveling at a high rate of speed on the highway. A poorly made tire can separate if there is a problem with the bonding of materials or if contaminants or older ingredients were introduced during the manufacturing process. Air can become trapped in-between the layers of the tire leading to a detread. The most egregious cases can result in a rollover, severe injuries and death.
During an auto accident, there are actually two crashes, the one with another vehicle, object, or person, and the impact of the vehicle occupant with the seat belt, or in the case of a seat belt failure, with the interior of the vehicle. The seat belt is supposed to minimize the second collision, but there have been seat belts that have failed due to design, product and installation. Our investigators frequently find that a victim is unbelted after the accident even though they say they had their belt on. In other instances, the occupant may strike the interior of the car, resulting in injury, or may be ejected from the vehicle even though the belt is latched. Less frequently, the webbing of the seat belt itself can become frayed, torn, or loose after the accident. Another thing to look for is whether the seat belt mounts to the floor have come loose during an accident.
When a vehicle rolls over, and if the seat belt works, the occupants should be protected by the survival space around them and especially between their head the roof. The roof is the critical component in keeping someone safe from suffering traumatic head injury which is very difficult to survive. When the automaker fails to provide adequate side rails, roll bars, and support pillars, a decrease in the survival space can result leading to death, paralysis, spinal injury, or brain injury. In some cases, a roof can open during a roof crush partially ejecting the occupant. In those cases, the manufacturer should be held responsible for manufacturing a defective product.
Federal statistics find that roof crush injuries from rollovers lead to nearly 600 deaths a year and even more injuries for those passengers wearing their seat belts. For those passengers not wearing seat belts, the numbers are even higher. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 ruled that rood strength of vehicles or passenger cars will double beginning in 2012. In the meantime, a car’s strength-to-weight ratio is followed. It was passed in 1971 and requires the manufacturer meet a minimum ratio of 1.5, meaning that in an accident the strength of the roof must exceed one and a half times the weight of the vehicle. Unfortunately, in a rollover the forces are much higher than that.
In trying these cases, attorneys have known for years that the auto industry knew it had a problem with inadequate roof strength yet put off making car roofs stronger. Some manufacturers do better than others, and they are not necessarily the most expensive cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will be adding a new roof rating system. To receive a marginal rating the roof strength to weight ratio of 2.5 will be required. A much higher 3.25 is preferable.
What Causes Auto Product Defects?
While government agencies, like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), place more and more regulations on vehicle manufacturers every year, defective auto parts continually lead to millions of recalled vehicles and countless injuries annually. Whether it is due to the ignorance of a company or a carmaker’s willful lack of care, these businesses are directly responsible for the accidents, injuries, and deaths their products cause.
Typical auto product liability lawsuits deal with malfunctioning components, such as seatbelts, seats, tires, locks, and windows. In some cases, the cause of the accident is immediately clear; in others, the type of accident itself (rollover, roof crush) points to a malfunctioning part. In these cases, the product liability component of the case comes in during an extensive investigation as to the accident’s circumstances and causes. In some accidents, driver error, weather conditions, or road surfaces can come into play; in these cases, multiple parties become involved in the lawsuit.
Most auto product defects cause harm in one of two ways. They either directly cause an accident, such as a tire blowout or a fire in the engine, or make an accident far worse, such as a malfunctioning airbag. In either case, auto companies are directly responsible for the damage that their dangerous products caused, which are either due to design or manufacturing defects.
What is a Design Defect?
Design defects occur during the planning of a product. Whether it is due to the blueprints created, a lack of insight into how it will work inside a vehicle, or the wrong choice of materials, these auto parts are dangerous from the start. As such, every time a part is made, it contains this defect, which can result in thousands upon thousands of dangerous products spread across the nation.
What is a Manufacturing Defect?
A manufacturing defect occurs when the actual physical creation of a product is what causes the danger. While the design of the item may be defect-free, errors in its actual manufacturing can create a wide variety of dangers. Depending on the type of mistake, these defects may affect a single product or an entire line.
How Do I Prove a Defect Led to My Florida Car Crash?
A large portion of car accidents are due to the dangerous actions of drivers. As such, many quickly assume that their crash was caused by reckless driving. However, every accident should be thoroughly inspected. The evidence you collect will show the origin of the incident. Whether it was your car that experienced the defect or someone else’s, as a victim you have the right to pursue payment for your medical bills, lost income, and any other losses caused by the crash.
Determining what part broke down, what the defect was, and who designed or manufactured the product will help you hold the correct company responsible.
If you or a loved one has experienced an auto accident that involved tires, seat belts or a roof that failed to protect the car’s occupant, it would be well-advised to bring in a Jacksonville injury attorney to take a closer look at your accident to see if product liability may be an important element of your case. Your free consultation with an experienced Jacksonville product liability attorney will help you make the right choices. We have been helping injured Florida residents since 1979 and with our legal representation you can recover to the best of your abilities.