Automobile Defects Product Liability Claims | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Two percent of car and truck crashes result from problems with the vehicles.

That does not sound like much to worry about until you realize that the researchers who ran the numbers for the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) analyzed reports from more than 2 million crashes and identified “critical issues” with vehicles in 44,000 of those wrecks.

When a defective part causes a collision that leaves people injured or killed, victims may have grounds for filing product liability claims against the company that made or sold the dangerous item. As explained by the Legal Information Institute Cornell Law School,

Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts (at the top of the chain), an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner (at the bottom of the chain). Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer (or someone to whom the product was loaned, given, etc.) of the product would be the subjects of products liability suits.




Fully recognizing the dangers posed by defective auto parts, NHTSA maintains a constantly updated Safety Issues & Recalls website. The consumer alerts are grouped into the categories of vehicles, car seats, tires and equipment. “Vehicles” encompass engines, gas tanks, axles and steering components. “Equipment” covers items such as brakes and airbags.

Tire blowouts and tread failure are among the most common equipment problems that lead to crash injuries and deaths, especially in single-vehicle accidents. Manufactures may rely on unsafe designs, use substandard materials or fail to perform quality checks before shipping their products to retailers.

Malfunctioning airbags and seat belts also contribute to thousands of injuries that the safety devices are meant to prevent. Our Virginia personal injury law firm has written extensively on the massive recall of millions of Takata airbags that either explode or fail to inflate.

Poorly constructed and incorrectly seat belts allow crash victims to pinball around inside vehicles or to fly through windshields. The results are often massive spine, neck and head injuries that leave people permanently disabled or dead.

Bad tires and faulty seat belts can combine to worsen the outcomes in rollover crashes, especially when an SUV or pickup truck that has a high center of gravity is involved. Federal regulations require vehicle manufacturers to meet standards for the placement of roll bars and roof strength, but companies do not always comply.

Even when grounds for filing a product liability claim against a vehicle manufacturer or a parts maker exist, succeeding in securing a settlement or jury award is not easy. Victims will help their case by partnering with an experienced personal injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney who will know how to conduct a thorough investigation, depose witnesses and arrange for expert testimony.