Automobiles, when they come off the assembly line, can be among the most beautiful machines ever created. As automobiles have gained more and more “bells and whistles” over the early Model T’s, the engineering of the vehicles has dramatically improved.
However, for all the advances in engineering and manufacturing (including the use of robotics in some parts of the assembly process), these machines aren’t all perfect. They are made by humans, after all.
We have imperfections, and those machines we create have similar imperfections. We may get 98 percent of them right, but there are always a couple that slips off the assembly line with a problem.
Not all problems with a vehicle are necessarily dangerous. Some issues are so minor that they can be fixed very quickly and there is no need for a recall. But when a recall is announced, that usually means the flaw is something widespread and puts a number of people at risk of injury or worse – sometimes recalls are announced only after someone is reported seriously injured or dead.
There have been several recalls in the last few years with several automobile manufacturers, one of the more noteworthy was a massive recall of General Motors (GM) vehicles that had a faulty ignition switch. When GM realized the problem was widespread (after more than 60 people were killed due to this defect), it announced a recall of several makes and models of cars that had this ignition switch, but the recall happened a couple of years after the models hit the roads.
Not all flaws are dangerous in and of themselves, but there are flaws that could lead to trouble and cause an unexpected auto accident. Defects can be unpredictable, and it’s wise to understand your rights in these situations with a consultation with a quality Memphis personal-injury attorney.
You will learn that there are two types of vehicle defects that can cause accidents – manufacturer defects and design defects.
An Example of a Manufacturer Defect
A defect that is traced to the manufacturer can be anything having to do with the assembly of the vehicle. These are usually limited to a specific model and/or a specific model year. An example of this might be a defective accelerator pedal.
An Example of a Design Defect
When an automobile has a design defect, it is usually something that is not related to assembly but is something having to do with the design – the parts being assembled. Often design defects aren’t from the manufacturer of the vehicle but from a third-party part manufacturer. One of the most famous and notorious design-defect recalls has been the recent recall of millions of cars that had airbags made by Takata, which were in many different makes and models of vehicles. When multiple makes, models, and model years are impacted, that is usually a design defect.
Prevalence of Defects in Auto Accidents
It is reported in some crash data that about 2 percent of all accidents have a vehicle defect as a significant factor or primary cause. That can mean tens of thousands of auto accidents each year can be attributed to vehicle defects of some kind. That can be a significant number, especially as most of those accidents will have at least one injury, and some will result in hundreds of deaths a year. And the unfortunate thing is that often these are the types of accidents that are difficult if not impossible to predict, especially if a recall has not been announced.
Where Does Liability Fall?
If a vehicle defect is a major factor or the primary cause of an auto accident, where liability will fall can be difficult to ascertain without a comprehensive accident investigation, which will only come from a quality Memphis personal-injury attorney and an independent investigator. After all, an insurance company will only look to ensure that the insured driver is not at fault, and a law-enforcement officer will only be looking for criminal or civil traffic violations as possible causes. As long as those are ruled out, they won’t investigate further.
Often, a vehicle defect will absolve a driver of any liability in an auto accident, and instead, that liability may fall on the manufacturer – unless there is a defect that could have been reasonably expected or addressed. For example, if a driver gets a notice of recall for a vehicle defect and does not take the vehicle in to address the issue and then gets in an accident which was caused by that defect, the driver may be held equally liable as the manufacturer.
Don’t Get Defective About Your Rights
Vehicle defect-caused accidents are often unpredictable and thus are difficult to anticipate or prevent. If you find yourself in an auto accident in which a vehicle defect was a contributing factor or the primary cause of the accident, you should protect your rights by getting a free consultation with a quality Memphis personal-injury attorney who can thoroughly and independently investigate your accident, check out any outstanding recalls for your vehicle and find out the truth about the cause of your accident.
Always know your rights in an auto accident, and especially understand the variables that go into an accident involving vehicle defects. Do not get defective in protecting your rights, and get sound legal advice from a top personal injury attorney in Memphis.