In the present day, cars have become an irreplaceable component of daily life. We rely on our personal motor vehicles to get us to work on time, help us run errands, and transport goods from one location to another. Every time we get behind the wheel of our car, we put a great deal of trust in the design and structural integrity of our vehicle. In most cases, our confidence in the safety and reliability of our vehicles is warranted. However, there is always a chance that an unexpected design defect or mechanical flaw can cause a car to fail suddenly.
A motor vehicle defect can occur in a number of ways. The defective car’s brakes can malfunction on the highway, the driver can suddenly lose power steering, a tire blowout can occur, or a seatbelt can fail to properly restrain an occupant during a collision. Any of these defects can cause serious harm, either by resulting in a car crash or limiting the protections a vehicle’s occupant would have normally had during a collision. In this article, we discuss some common vehicle defects that can cause a wreck, as well as the steps to follow after a crash caused by an unexpected malfunction.
Injuries Caused by Car Defects
Defective car components are capable of causing serious or even life-threatening injuries. If a previously-unknown flaw causes a driver to lose control of their vehicle at a high rate of speed or the defect reduces an occupant’s protection during a crash, the consequences can be severe. The lawyers at Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC put together the following list of injuries commonly caused by car accidents:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Dislocated or broken bones
- Amputation or dismemberment
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Emotional and psychological trauma
Types of Motor Vehicle Defects
In a general sense, Encyclopedia.com defines a defective product as something that “causes some injury or damage to [a] person as a result of some defect in the product or its labeling or how it was used.” Although there are a number of ways that a car can unexpectedly fail its owner, most vehicle defects fit into one of three primary categories. The three most common types of issues are design defects, manufacturing defects, and labeling defects.
When the actual design of a car makes it unsafe or unreliable, the vehicle is impacted by a design defect. In most cases, a defect impacts an entire line of cars, as opposed to a single vehicle or production batch. For example, a line of pickup trucks may be built with airbags that don’t inflate during an impact or an SUV model may be prone to rollover accidents because of its high center of gravity.
When a labeling defect occurs, the car in question may not actually have flaws. However, there may be a lack of instructions or critical warning labels, thus making the vehicle unsafe for routine use. A car may be lacking an owner’s manual, for example, which can leave the driver unaware of critical safety factors.
A design defect impacts all of the motor vehicles in a line, while a manufacturing defect impacts only specific batches or individual cars. A manufacturing defect occurs due to a mistake during the production phase, so only specific vehicles are likely to be affected. Some common manufacturing defects include:
- An airbag that suddenly or forcefully deploys
- Broken, non-latching, or self-unbuckling seatbelts
- Flaws with a vehicle’s electronics or modern technology
- Malfunctioning brakes
- Faulty steering columns
- Unsecured door or trunk latches
What Defects Make Cars Dangerous?
The majority of mechanical issues that lead to motor vehicle collisions are either design or manufacturing defects. Some problems that can cause serious collisions include:
- Defective tires: Replacing your car’s tires can be a costly and inconvenient process. However, driving with worn or defective tires can put you and other motorists at serious risk of injury. A manufacturing defect may come into play if one or more of your car’s tires wear at a faster rate than indicated in your owner’s manual. In other cases, a car’s tires may not be correctly mounted or the wrong tires may be installed.
- Malfunctioning brakes: Faults with a car’s brakes can easily lead to a serious accident and should be fixed as soon as possible. Errors in an electrical, hydraulic, or mechanical system can lead to a brake failure.
- Steering or control problems: A fault with a car’s steering system can make it nearly impossible to maintain control of a moving vehicle. Even at low speeds, a defect of this nature can cause you to collide with a stationary object, another vehicle, or a pedestrian.
- Engine failure: Car engines can vary significantly from each other, particularly with an increasing number of electric vehicles hitting the market. Regardless of a car’s engine type, an undetected defect can result in fires, stalls, sudden downshifting, or other unexpected issues that can put the vehicle’s occupants at risk.
- Faulty ignition and fuel systems: Unlike other common vehicle defects, issues with a car’s fuel or ignition systems are not likely to cause a collision. However, problems of this nature may cause a collision to be worse than it otherwise would have been. A vehicle with a defective gas tank may be more likely to catch on fire after a crash, posing severe risk to the driver and other people nearby.
Steps to Follow After a Crash Caused by a Vehicle Defect
Collisions caused by vehicle defects are unpredictable, often occurring suddenly as a driver loses control of their car due to an unexpected flaw. Even an experienced driver is likely to be shaken up by a collision occurring due to a dangerous design flaw, so we’ve created a list of steps to follow after a crash. Following the wreck, try your best to stay calm and:
- Check yourself and any other crash victims for injuries.
- Call 911 for assistance. If law enforcement responds to the crash, request a copy of their incident report.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the collision.
- Take down the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
- Document the accident scene. Take photos of vehicle or property damage, injuries sustained, and road conditions that may have contributed to the crash.
- Notify your insurance company that an accident occurred. Depending on your policy, you may be required to contact your insurance provider of the accident within a specific timeframe.
- Seek medical attention, even if you believe you have avoided serious injuries.
- Speak to an experienced local car accident attorney, who can guide you through the legal process as your case progresses.