Representing Victims of Negligent Manufacturers and Dealerships
Traffic crashes are the #1 killer of Americans under the age of 34. This is a frightening statistic that hits close to home since most Americans rely on their vehicles for everyday use. Car accidents are not always the result of negligent drivers; vehicle defects can hinder your ability to control your vehicle, forcing you into an unforeseeable accident.
At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, we understand the severity of auto accidents and the challenges that come in the aftermath of a serious collision, especially when you are injured. With our experienced team of accident reconstruction experts, we can build a case proving your injuries were caused by a defective auto in order to help you to maximize the value of your compensation.
The best way to learn about your rights and options after suffering an injury caused by a defective auto is to speak with Mr. Tenge in person. Please call (303) 502-5587 today to schedule a free consultation at our Denver personal injury law office.
What to Be Aware of in Automobile Defects & Recalls
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks all auto manufacturers’ recalls for defective parts. In some states, the dealerships are required by law to notify car owners of any recalls, while manufacturers may choose to notify customers directly. Some car owners, however, never receive notice about a defective part in their automobile and must rely on the NHTSA.
In either situation, a recall is an extremely serious matter, as it can impact how your vehicle functions on the road, the reliability of your car’s safety features, and the likelihood of an accident. If you have received a notice of a recall, you should immediately contact your dealership or mechanic to have the defective part replaced. In some cases, this could mean completely replacing the car’s entire engine system.
In the worst-case scenario, not being notified of a recall can put you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road at risk of being involved in a serious accident. This can include loose or cracked tires that cause a blowout, steering wheels that lock up without warning, or accelerators that stick to the floor. In these instances, if a dealership failed to notify you of a defect, you could file a product liability claim against the company to cover the costs of your injuries and property damage. Dealerships are required to update drivers of any dangerous features in a vehicle, especially if they can cause a collision.
But even if a part was not recalled, that does not mean you cannot file a claim. Sometimes companies do not become aware of issues until after a collision has occurred, but manufacturers and designers are still required to engineer their vehicles as safely as possible.
How Auto Defects Cause Accidents
Auto defects typically occur at two stages when a car is being engineered: the design stage and the manufacturing stage.
When a vehicle is being designed, auto companies may settle on a specific structure of the frame, seats, and individual parts that is inherently defective. Design defects are, at this stage, not technically defects to the company, as they intended to engineer the vehicle or part in a specific way. It may not even be apparent that the design is faulty until months after it has been put on the market. However, even if the company was not aware that a vehicle or part was designed improperly, they are still liable for any injuries caused by faulty designs.
Common design defects that can injure a driver or occupant include:
- Seats that do not remain upright while the car is in motion
- Airbags that fail to deploy during collisions
- Roofs that are not strong enough to handle rollovers
- Brakes that do not respond to pressure
- Accelerators that stick to floor mats
- Software errors in automatic driving systems
- Steering wheels that lock up
- Seatbelts that apply too much pressure during a collision
A car company can prevent design defects by thoroughly reviewing a vehicle’s test results and looking for critical errors that could cause serious injuries to occupants. While most vehicles are tested by the NHTSA or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it is up to the manufacturer to respond to these test results and work with both organizations to improve their vehicle’s ratings.
In many cases, the design of a vehicle is not the issue, and the error only occurred when the vehicle was manufactured. These issues may not be as widespread as a design defect, as a manufacturing error will likely only be in certain branches of a vehicle. Manufacturing errors are typically more obvious that design defects because the issue may be with specific parts or components rather than an entire system in the vehicle. However, it can also be a large-scale issue if the defect was caused by a specific factory. Oftentimes, auto parts are contracted out to various companies to relieve the burden on major automotive companies, meaning there are several groups that handle a vehicle before it is complete. If any one of these companies acted negligently and caused a defect in the vehicle, it could lead to a serious auto collision.
Types of manufacturing defects that typically lead to collisions or injuries include:
- Broken steering components
- Loose, torn, or broken seat belts
- Faulty fuel systems
- Lighting systems that break
- Defective ignitions
- Poor electrical wiring
- Faulty brake systems
If any of these components are poorly engineered, the vehicle could become inoperable while on the road. On the busy roads of Denver, this can lead to significant accidents as a driver loses control of their vehicle and becomes involved in a serious collision. As dangerous as these defects are, drivers and accident victims may be able to pursue compensation from an auto manufacturer, dealership, or repair shop.
Who Is Responsible for Defects?
As mentioned earlier, many hands touch an automotive vehicle before it gets on the road. These include the original designers, individual auto part manufacturers, transportation companies, and dealership. However, even after a car has been sold, mechanics and repair shops also play an important role in ensuring the vehicle is maintained and safe to operate. If any one of these groups acts negligently, resulting in a collision or crash, then they could be held liable for your injuries.
Manufacturers: Both the car manufacturers and the individual part designers can improperly engineer a vehicle with a defect. If they allowed a car to go on the road with a defect, whether known or not, they can be held liable if that defect causes an accident.
Dealerships and Retailers: Dealerships are responsible for storing and maintaining vehicles until they are ready to be sold, while retailers must safely store all auto parts. If a vehicle or part is damaged while under their care, they are responsible for repairing or replacing it. When they allow customers to purchase vehicles or parts that are damaged – or ignore a recall notice – they can be found liable if the damaged part injures a customer.
Mechanics: Sometimes manufacturers discover a defect after an auto product has been released to the public and issue a recall notice to all dealerships and mechanics to have it replaced. If you took your vehicle in for repairs or routine maintenance and a mechanic did not notify you that a part needed to recalled – or damaged the vehicle in some other way during maintenance – then they could be found liable if that negligence caused an accident.
How to File a Success Auto Product Defect Claim
Product liability cases require extensive research to determine how a defect caused an accident, who was at fault, and how you can prove that a manufacturer is at fault. These cases are not always very clear in most accidents, especially if your crash involved other drivers. Blame may be shifted back and forth between the individual drivers before it is discovered how a defect caused the collision, if the defect is discovered at all.
An important element of these cases is the auto defect itself. Accident victims should avoid scrapping or repairing their vehicle until it is inspected by an attorney and an automotive expert. You could lose important evidence if the part is thrown out or replaced.
But beyond preserving evidence, you must also clearly outline how a manufacturer, dealership, or mechanic was at fault for your accident. This can include proving:
- Duty of Care: A manufacturer, dealership, retailer, or mechanic owed you a duty of care. This can be proven by showing that you owned the vehicle or that you were a customer of a dealership or mechanic through an invoice.
- Negligence: Through an expert examination of the auto defect or your vehicle, you may be able to show that it was dangerous to drive with the defective part installed.
- Causation: In addition to showing that the defect was dangerous and could cause an injury or crash, you must also show how it contributed to your specific accident. This can either be done by demonstrating how the defect directly caused you to lose control of your vehicle or how the defect made your injuries more serious.
Demonstrating all three elements requires a significant amount of evidence, including the defect auto part, accident analysis from an expert reconstructionist, police reports, witness testimony, and medical reports. All of this can be difficult to uncover and collect while you are recovering from your injuries, which is why your best option is to contact a skilled product liability lawyer.
Advocating for Proper Compensation After an Accident
Defective product cases are highly complex, and it’s crucial that you work with an experienced attorney who can demonstrate that your injuries were in fact caused by a vehicle defect. Todd Tenge has been fighting for the rights of defective auto victims in the Denver and Boulder area since 1992, and he understands the sophisticated issues associated with these cases.
Mr. Tenge is a seasoned litigator who prepares every case as if it goes to trial. While he will always strive to settle your case whenever possible, he has the background necessary to stand up to negligent vehicle manufacturers in court if a settlement isn’t in your best interests.
Please contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC using the form at the bottom of the page or call (303) 502-5587 today to schedule your free consultation. We serve clients in Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder, Colorado.