Americans spend a lot of time in their cars, and car manufacturers are responsible for taking reasonable measures to ensure that the vehicles they produce are safe. What should you do if you were injured because your car had a faulty part? If you think you might have grounds for a claim against a car manufacturer, we recommend that you speak with one of our accident injury lawyers in Houston, TX.
My Car Malfunctioned: Do I Have a Case?
If your car malfunctions, there is a strong chance that you can successfully file a claim against one of the parties involved in the supply chain that put the vehicle in your procession. Many times, the car manufacturer is liable, but there is also a possibility that you could sue a distributor, a part supplier, a company involved in the transportation of the vehicle, or a dealership.
Accident injury lawyers are highly familiar with product liability laws and can help identify the liable party. Determining whether you have a case is a matter of pinpointing exactly what went wrong in the vehicle. You will also need to show that you were injured as a direct result of the problem with the car. When we take on a car malfunction case, our lawyers work with mechanics and product safety experts to determine the cause of the error.
Understanding Why the Accident Happened
It is possible that some car malfunction injuries do not involve collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects. For example, if gas was leaking into the cabin, the occupants could be harmed even while the car was idling. In that case, they could file a product liability claim even if there was no collision. However, most faulty car part cases do involve some sort of crash, and it is important to identify exactly what role the faulty part played.
A key question your lawyer might investigate is whether the malfunction was the only issue that led to the accident. Imagine that a car’s left turn signal isn’t working. When going through an intersection, the faulty car collides with an oncoming vehicle. If the oncoming driver was speeding at the time of the crash, both his/her negligent driving and the broken signal could be considered contributing factors.
In the scenario described above, you might have the opportunity to file two claims: one against the car manufacturer and one against the other driver. However, your lawyer would need to be ready for the car manufacturer to make arguments putting all of the blame on the other driver, and vice versa. In these types of cases, we often call in accident reconstruction experts to help determine fault.
Identifying the Problem With the Faulty Car
If the experts determine that the car did malfunction, you will need to understand why. Product liability cases, including those involving cars, usually rest on one of the following types of errors:
- A design flaw
- A production mistake
- Bad marketing
Design flaws occur at the planning phase, long before the production of the car begins. If a car is not designed in a way that makes it reliable on the road, or if one part is prone to error because the mechanics or the electronic components were not well-thought-out, serious injuries can result.
Production mistakes occur while the car is being made at the factory or as the parts are being produced in separate facilities. Often, production mistakes happen as the result of human error, malfunctioning production equipment, or managerial oversight. An error of this sort could affect one car, or it could impact numerous vehicles being made in the same way.
Fraudulent or misleading marketing can be at the source of a product liability case if wording or images in the marketing material led the injured party to use the product in a dangerous way. For example, if advertisements for a car show the vehicle being driven off-road with no warning that it was only designed for use on paved streets, the owner might be able to demand compensation for any injuries incurred while driving off road.
Other ways to build a case around the marketing include arguing that the vehicle was issued without adequate safety information or demonstrating that the instructions for use were missing important details. Similarly, you may be able to claim that using the vehicle as intended made you vulnerable to injury.
Proving That the Defect Caused Your Injuries
You only have a case against the car manufacturer, the distributor, or another party if you were actually injured as a result of the defect. In other words, a car inspection might reveal that your airbags aren’t functioning correctly, however, you could only demand compensation if you were hurt as a result of them not deploying or because they went off with too much force.
Our lawyers can help you use your medical records, witness statements, and other sources of evidence to demonstrate the causal link between the malfunction and your injuries. If necessary, doctors can be called on in court as expert witnesses who can assess your condition and make credible projections regarding how it will impact your life going forward. Demonstrating the severity of your injury is essential because the amount of compensation you can claim depends on the extent of your losses.
Personal Injury Claim vs. Class-Action Lawsuit
If other individuals were hurt because multiple vehicles were issued with the same problem, you may qualify to participate in a class-action lawsuit. While class-action lawsuits can streamline the legal process, you may be able to collect a higher payout by filing an individual personal injury claim. If you find that you are in a position to choose between a class-action lawsuit and an individual claim, we can help you way the pros and cons of each option.
Common Car Malfunctions
We cannot discuss all of the ways a car can malfunction because they are incredibly intricate machines that are built from many components. In today’s cars, the source of the error could be mechanical or electronic, especially in hybrids and electric vehicles. However, here is a list of some common problems:
- Brake failure
- Seatbelt malfunction
- Errors with the warning lights on the dashboard
- Faulty airbags
- Horn malfunction
- Problems with the hybrid system
- Errors involving automated driver-assist features
Ask One of Our Accident Injury Lawyers in Houston, TX to Review Your Case
Car accident cases that center around a faulty part can be difficult to sort out. Our accident injury lawyers are happy to talk with you about how you got injured and what sources of compensation might be available. Our consultations include a candid case assessment that can help you evaluate your legal options. To schedule a meeting with us, call 713-481-2820.
While any consumer product has the potential to cause injury, cars are especially dangerous. At the same time, we rely on our cars to get to school, work, family events, and social functions. If you have been injured because of an error on the part of a car manufacturer, we will help you seek the compensation you deserve. To speak with one of our lawyers in Houston, TX, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.