How to Recover Losses for a Defective Vehicle After an Accident

Redondo Beach, CA Attorneys serving Torrance and the South Bay Area

Man in neck brace wonderingVehicle defects often lead to accidents. Depending on the nature of the defect, these accidents can be serious or even fatal. If you or a loved one have sustained an injury due to a vehicle defect, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Please call our Redondo Beach office at 310-536-1000 to schedule a free case review and learn more.

Common Vehicle Defects

Some of the most common vehicle defects are:

  • Electrical issues
  • Problems with pedals
  • Ignition system defects
  • Fuel and exhaust defects
  • Cooling system issues
  • Steering defects
  • Poorly designed or installed safety equipment

These defects can pose serious risks for drivers, passengers, and others on the road as they effectively render a vehicle useless and take control away from the driver. Examples of these types of defects include the GM ignition switch recall and the recent Takata airbag recalls.

In some cases, a vehicle is simply defective by design. This may include errors in frame construction, engine assembly, or transmission installation. These defects pose serious risks to everyone on the road, though they do not result in large-scale recalls as frequently as component-part malfunctions do.

Collecting Compensation

Unlike a personal injury claim, where liability needs to be established, defective vehicles fall under product liability and damages from these claims are often part of class action lawsuits. In cases where a recall has been issued, proving liability is fairly simple because the defect is already known. In cases where no recall has been issued, things get a bit more complicated.

When no recall has been issued, it must be established that a defect, not human error, caused your accident. In order to do this, it will need to be established that the vehicle had an “unreasonably dangerous” defect. This means:

  • You were using the vehicle as intended. For example, if you are in an accident while off-roading in a passenger sedan, you are not likely to get compensation. If your off-road vehicle is improperly balanced due to a design defect, however, you may have a case.
  • You have not altered the vehicle in any way. Sticking with the off-road example, if you have put a lift-kit on an SUV, the manufacturer of the SUV is not liable for accidents caused by rollover because you have changed the vehicle's center of gravity and height - neither of which would be the fault of the manufacturer.

To establish that a vehicle was defective by design or that a component part caused your accident, you will need to first ensure that no modifications have been made to the vehicle and that the vehicle was being used as intended. If a component part fails, like brakes for example, after it has been repaired, it is also unlikely that the manufacturer of the vehicle is to blame. A parts manufacturer or mechanic, on the other hand, may be liable in these cases. It is always best to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to make sure you are aware of all of your options.

If a recall has been issued for a vehicle and you have ignored the recall, the manufacturer may avoid liability even in cases where an accident was clearly a result of the defect. It is always a good idea to take your car to the closest dealership whenever you receive a recall notice to make sure your vehicle remains safe. If you are uncertain if there are any recalls on your vehicle, visit the NHTSA’s VIN# lookup page to find out for sure. Remember, failure to respond to recall notices places you at risk for both financial and physical damages that will not be recoverable if it can be established that they are a result of your inaction.

If you are in need of a product liability attorney in the South Bay area, Kirtland & Packard is here to help.

Personal Injury

In the past few years, several vehicle defects have garnered public attention following several cases of serious and fatal injury. In cases where an injury is severe or life is taken, more aggressive legal action may be needed.

While it can be established that a vehicle caused an accident when that vehicle has a defect, holding the appropriate part liable for medical bills, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering is another issue entirely. This is where a personal injury attorney will come in especially useful.

The personal injury lawyers at Kirtland & Packard have decades of experience and a proven record of holding negligent corporations accountable for their actions. We are prepared to get to work on your case right away to help establish liability and begin building a case for comprehensive compensation. This is often the best way to ensure the compensation you seek is in line with the damages you have suffered.

If you suspect an injury was caused by a vehicle defect, act quickly. The statute of limitations in California is two years, but waiting is never a good idea. Establishing liability in cases where no recall has been issued is more difficult and the closer to the incident we can begin our investigation, the more information we will likely be able to find.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed by a vehicle defect, please call 310-536-1000 to schedule your complimentary consultation today. Located in Redondo Beach, we serve the entire South Bay area.