Defective Car Parts: Understanding Product Liability

Steven Schwartzapfel Aug 11, 2015
Defective Car Parts

Getting seriously injured because of a defective car part can result in pain and suffering, medical bills, and an overwhelming feeling of anger and frustration. Companies, manufacturers, dealerships, and shippers all have a responsibility to consumers to provide safe, reliable car parts. Customers place their trust in each of these parties. When a component fails to function properly, it can lead to serious injury or even death. This type of scenario is typically cause for a product liability lawsuit. Understanding the basics of vehicle-related product liability claims and the potential parties involved is an important step if you are considering filing a lawsuit.

Common Problems with Manufacture and Design

While each individual case is unique, there are common issues that appear quite frequently in vehicle liability cases. These include:

  • Rollovers, particularly SUVs
  • Tire blowouts from defects
  • Brake and anti-lock system defects
  • Steering issues
  • Defective airbags
  • Unsafe ATVs
  • Wobbly motorcycles
  • Defective seatbelts
  • Defective seat backs
  • Problems with electronic systems

Two Categories of Vehicle-Related Product Liability Claims

In the eyes of the court, product liability claims fall into one of two categories:

  • Defective manufacturing claims deal with parts or vehicles that have mistakenly been made defective during the manufacturing or shipping process. The defect may have been overlooked during an inspection, or it may have been tampered with during delivery or at the dealership. This type of claim involves only one defective product in a line of safe products.
  • Defective design claims involve parts or vehicles that have been properly handled during production, but have an inherent flaw in their design. This type of claim implicates entire lines of products, rather than just one randomly defective item. Sometimes defectively-designed parts remain on the market for a significant amount of time before their dangers are discovered.

The Chain of Distribution: Who is to Blame?

The route a defective car part or vehicle takes from the manufacturer to the consumer is considered the ‘chain of distribution.’ To prove liability, it must be determined which party along this chain is responsible for the defect. Fault may lie with more than one party involved.

  • The manufacturer is usually a large company that makes and markets the car part or vehicle.
  • The parts manufacturer may be the same or a separate company from the primary manufacturer.
  • The shipper is the company hired to transport the vehicle or part to the retailer.
  • The car dealership or automotive store that the car part or vehicle was purchased at may be held liable, even if the injured party did not own the car with the defective part.

Putting the Pieces Together

To prove negligence, you must piece together three aspects of liability:

  1. That physical harm or property damage was suffered.
  2. That the suspected car part or vehicle was either defectively produced or defectively designed.
  3. That the defect directly caused the harm or damage.

Note that, during the litigation process, it is not uncommon for the plaintiff to have to prove that he or she was not at fault at the time of the accident.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. – New York’s Product Liability Firm

Accidents involving defective car parts are usually unexpected and frightening. Injuries can be as simple as a concussion or as catastrophic as paralysis, brain damage or death. If you believe you or a loved one may be a victim of a poorly designed or defective part or vehicle, the first step in pursuing a claim is to contact a seasoned lawyer who understands the depths of personal injury law. At Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., we will thoroughly assess your unique situation, perform an intensive investigation and plan the most effective strategy possible. Our experienced, dedicated legal team will communicate with you every step of the way to ensure your understanding of the legal system and your rights. Contact us at 1-877-737-4806 for a free consultation.

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