It is not always the other driver who causes a car accident. Sometimes, the vehicle itself fails and causes a serious accident due to a defective automotive part or system.
We are all familiar with recalls of cars and car parts. Some safety recalls make headlines such as those for air bags, ignition switches and tires. Many recalls, however, fly under the radar.
Since the initiation of recalls by the federal government, recalls have been issued due to safety defects for:
- 390 million-plus cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds
- 46 million tires
- 66 million other pieces of motor vehicle equipment
- 42 million child safety seats have been recalled because of safety defects.
Unfortunately, recalls typically occur only after a safety defect causes several persons to be badly injured or killed. Even then, a recall often occurs only because attorneys have helped aggrieved families to hold the manufacturer accountable.
Vehicle defect cases demand a lawyer who has a firm understanding of the mechanics and engineering involved in car crashes as well as the resources to take on an automaker or parts manufacturer.
If have been injured due to a suspected auto defect in Milwaukee or elsewhere in Wisconsin, you can turn to Techmeier Law Firm. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing car accident victims and their families throughout Wisconsin. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and court verdicts for our clients. Call or reach us online today.
Commonly Defective Automotive Parts and Systems
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which administers auto recalls, a safety defect is a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or piece of motor vehicle equipment that:
- Poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and
- May exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.
Motor vehicle safety defects are commonly identified in:
Accelerators – When an accelerator fails, it is likely to “stick.” This means the vehicle cannot decrease its acceleration or may speed up unexpectedly. Faulty accelerators have caused many accidents, including high-speed accidents that have led to catastrophic injury and death.
Air bags – Air bags are designed to inflate at the point of impact in a collision to cushion and protect vehicle occupants. However, they may fail to deploy and inflate, fail to inflate fully or deploy and inflate in the absence of a collision. This can cause a driver to be unable to operate the vehicle. Recently, air bags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata have been recalled because the propellant that inflates the bag can shatter its case, spraying shrapnel at car occupants.
Brakes – The danger of faulty brakes and the inability to stop a speeding car is obvious. Typically, it is a problem within the brake system such as cracks in the master cylinder, a faulty rubber seal ring or a hose that allows brake fluid leakage, which leads to the failure.
Ignition – Failure of the ignition system can cause a vehicle to shut off, which means loss of steering, brakes and other operating and safety systems. The recall of millions of General Motors vehicles in 2014 because of an ignition switch flaw that causes vehicles to unexpectedly shut off is not the largest ever. However, it has been called one of the deadliest in recent years.
Steering – A vehicle’s steering system is clearly the most important feature for safe control of the vehicle. Faults that lead to steering failure may range from breaks in gear motor attachment bolts caused by corrosion to failure of the vehicles’ electronic power steering system, which makes control of the vehicle difficult, if not impossible.
Tires – With literally millions of units removed from the market over the years, tires are the most heavily recalled of all motor vehicle parts. A defective tire may suffer a tread separation and suddenly deflate or “blow out” and cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash. This is particularly dangerous at high speed or in heavy traffic.
Investigating and Pursuing a Defective Vehicle Claim
The U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety defines motor vehicle safety as “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”
When manufacturers fail to meet this standard, they can be held liable for the injuries and deaths that inevitably follow.
An individual who has been injured or the family of a person who has died could pursue a claim if they are able to show that the manufacturer –and/or sometimes a distributor or retailer as well –knew or should have known the automotive part or system in question was defective but failed to adequately warn consumers of the danger.
Such a lawsuit is a complex undertaking. In addition to proving the claim, you typically must fight a corporation with deep pockets. This is why it is important to choose a law firm that has the resources as well as the knowledge, experience and will to investigate and pursue a vehicle defect claim.
The investigation into a vehicle defect usually requires court action to obtain manufacturer’s documents pertaining to design and creation of the part or system. The legal team must also understand the documents and know what to look for as an indicator of problems. Because a manufacturer is likely to fight a demand for documents and then, once they lose, “bury” the plaintiff in volumes upon volume of documents, it is usually time-consuming work as well.
Large cases with multiple claims, particularly those that lead to or grow from recalls, may eventually be consolidated as class-action lawsuits (a grouping of similar claims in a single lawsuit) or multi-district litigation (which groups lawsuits filed in federal court which involve similar facts and issues).
Contact Our Milwaukee Vehicle Defect Attorneys
Techmeier Law Firm can review the circumstances of your case and explain your legal options, including the possibility of joining any existing litigation against a negligent automaker or parts manufacturer.
Our legal team can promise that we will follow the evidence and collaborate with investigators, forensic engineers, accident reconstruction specialists, doctors and additional legal counsel and other experts, as necessary, to advance your case toward the goal of obtaining just compensation for you.
To schedule a free consultation, simply call us today or submit our online form.
Sources / More Information
- Motor Vehicle Defects and Safety Recalls: What Every Vehicle Owner Should Know, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Biggest Auto Recalls Ever, CNN Money