The average car weighs anywhere between 3,500 to 4,500 pounds. In order to prevent serious injuries, these vehicles must be safe when they’re on the road. When these vehicles have defective parts the risk of suffering a serious or fatal injury skyrockets. If you have been injured because of an automotive defect you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Citywide Law Group today to learn about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim and how we can help.
The personal injury attorneys at Citywide Law Group have more than 17 years of legal experience. Since forming the Citywide Law Group, we have helped thousands of accident victims recover real and meaningful compensation. We are not afraid to take on big automobile manufacturers and companies in order to make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Call our personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles today to schedule a free consultation. We would be happy to review your case, determine liability, and answer your questions.
What is an Automotive Defect?
An automotive defect exists when a product is inherently dangerous to the consumer and poses an unnecessary risk of harm. This defect could exist because there is a flaw in the product’s design, the product was manufactured incorrectly, or the company simply failed to warn consumers about potential dangers. When a vehicle is defective and causes an injury, the company responsible for designing, manufacturing, and/or selling that vehicle can be held financially responsible under California’s product liability laws.
Types of Automotive Defects
Motor vehicles are complex pieces of machinery, often requiring thousands of parts and hours of labor. The design for the vehicle must ensure that consumers who use the car are not put at an increased risk of harm. When it is manufactured, the vehicle must be built exactly according to the specifications called for in its design. If the company knows about a danger associated with using the car in a reasonably foreseeable way, that company has to provide clear warnings. Since the process of getting a car onto the road is such an involved process there are hundreds of potential automotive defects.
Some automotive defects occur more frequently, and/or put users at a greater risk of harm, than others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considered the following automotive defects to be the most serious:
- Defective seats and seat backs;
- Sticky or broken accelerator controls;
- Defective fuel system components;
- Wheels prone to cracking or breaking;
- Defective engine cooling fan blades;
- Wiring problems;
- Defective airbags;
- Defective child safety features;
- Faulty windshield wipers;
- Defective components of the vehicle that are essential to safe operation; and
- Faulty tires.
These automotive defects are so serious that the NHTSA actually requires companies to issue safety recalls when knowledge of a defect exists.
Liability for Defective Products
Any person or company that is involved in the design, manufacture, or distribution of a defective product can be held financially responsible for defect-related injuries. In most cases, a company will be held responsible for any injuries that they knew or should have known about that occur while a consumer is using the product in a reasonably foreseeable way. Products do not necessarily have to be used as intended. An injured consumer can recover compensation if they were using the product in any foreseeable way.
Comparative Fault of the Victim
While companies can be held responsible, consumers do have an obligation to use their best judgment and prevent inflicting harm on themselves. A consumer who blatantly misuses a product may be barred from recovering compensation. However, California law does not necessarily prohibit accident victims from recovering compensation if they simply contributed to the cause of their injury. A victim can recover compensation as long as they are not entirely responsible for their injury.
What happens if a company issues a recall for a defective product? Will that company automatically be held liable for any injuries that are caused because of that defect? Not necessarily. While the fact that a product recall is issued for a defective product may be helpful in proving your case, it is not an automatic slam dunk. You must still establish each element of your defective product claim.
Statute of Limitations for Automotive Defect Claims
California imposes certain time constraints for filing a personal injury claim for damages. In most every situation you will have two years from the date of your injury-causing accident to file a claim. If you do not file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires you will probably not be able to recover the compensation you deserve.
What happens if you don’t realize that an automotive defect is responsible for your injury before the statute of limitations expires? Fortunately, there are certain circumstances when the statute of limitations can be tolled. This allows accident victims to file a timely claim and get the money they need. If there is a reasonable delay in the discovery of your injury, or in the connection of that injury to an automotive defect, the statute of limitations can be paused. In these cases, you will have one year from the date of discovering the injury to file a claim.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured Because of an Automotive Defect?
Suffering an unexpected injury can be traumatizing. It is important to understand that the decisions you make immediately following your accident will affect your future. You can increase the chances of filing a successful claim by keeping the following suggestions in mind after suffering automotive defect injury.
See a Medical Professional
Seeing a doctor or medical professional will ensure that all of your injuries are diagnosed and treated. Automotive defects can cause some very serious internal damage. If these internal injuries are left undiscovered it could be life-threatening. Seeing a doctor will also help to prove that your injuries were caused by the automotive defect. The report reflecting your visit can be very helpful down the line.
Document the Injury
Take photographs of your injuries and the vehicle as soon as you can. The goal of this documentation is to preserve as much evidence as possible.
Report the Incident
A police report may be inadmissible in court, but it will be extremely valuable to your attorney as they investigate your case. The report will document certain details that are often lost or forgotten over time. Things like the weather, road conditions, temperature, and traffic can all be important in determining why an accident happened.
Refuse Early Offers
Insurance companies may be quick to offer you a settlement. Avoid the temptation to accept these early offers. They may be appealing when you’re dealing with significant financial hardships, but they won’t be enough to cover the full extent of your injuries. Insurance companies aren’t on your side and will do anything they can to minimize the compensation you recover.
Call a Lawyer
It can be difficult to prove that an automotive defect caused you to suffer an injury. Even when the link between the defect and your injury is clear, it can still be difficult to recover a fair amount of compensation. Hiring an attorney to handle your automotive defect claim will increase your chances of maximizing the compensation you receive.
Experienced Los Angeles Automotive Defect Injury Attorneys
Have you suffered an injury because of an automotive defect? Maybe your Takata airbags finally exploded. Or, maybe faulty brakes caused you to get into a car accident. Contact the Citywide Law Group today to learn about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim for damages. Companies who design, manufacture, and sell vehicles are can be held financially responsible for injuries that are caused by automotive defects. Our attorneys can help to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine liability, and explain your rights as an injured consumer.