Automobile accidents are such a common occurrence that, in many instances, insurance companies for one party pay the injured party and the case is filed away forever. But what if there is another party at fault? In some instances, defects in the car’s design may have contributed to the accident. Additionally, some single car accidents could be the result of design defects. These types of claims fall under the realm of products liability and, under these claims, manufacturers can be held liable if it is proven that a defect in the car existed and contributed to the accident. This is an important area to consider especially when a catastrophic accident occurs as standard car insurance, even an umbrella package, may not be enough to adequately compensate the injured or deceased.
Automobiles in America have to pass specific tests to be considered safe enough to be sold in the general market. These general tests evaluate the crashworthiness of the vehicle. Some parts of the test include these five categories:
- A safe passenger compartment. In the instance of a crash or rollover, vehicles should be designed such that intrusion into the passenger compartment is minimized.
- Effective restraints. A proper restraint system should “lock” passengers into their seats, preventing too much contact with the interior of the car.
- Eliminate ejection. A properly functioning vehicle should reduce the instance of doors, trunks, and seatbelts releasing during an impact.
- Impactful interiors. Car interiors should be adequately cushioned to absorb the impact from the crash.
- A durable fuel system. Fuel systems should maintain their integrity during a crash.
When suspecting a design defect, there is typically a failure to address one of these issues. While every case is unique and every case should be evaluated on its own circumstances, there are some clues that may suggest a defect in the manufacture and design of the vehicle:
- An occupant is ejected. It is important to check the car to see if doors and latches held up during impact and if the seatbelt was engaged during the crash. This may suggest a defective latch.
- An occupant has sustained serious injuries while being belted with little damage to the vehicle. This may suggest a defect in the airbag if it was too strong for occupants such as women and children.
- Rollovers on smooth, dry roads. A vehicle should not rollover in these conditions.
- An occupant is burned with no other major injuries. This suggests a possible issue with the durability of the fuel system.
If you suspect a design or manufacturing defect on your or a loved one’s vehicle, it is imperative to speak with an attorney immediately.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you suspect a design defect from an auto accident please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.