Not all auto accidents are caused by careless drivers. Sometimes, defectively designed or manufactured vehicles are placed in the stream of commerce by vehicle manufacturers to the detriment of drivers on the road. In these instances it may be necessary to file defective vehicle lawsuits against against the vehicle manufacturer.
Modern vehicles are becoming more complex as technological advances are integrated into the cars we drive. As a result, a number of issues may arise with a car’s working parts, computer systems, and safety devices. Common types of vehicle defects include:
- Faulty brakes;
- Wiring malfunctions;
- Flawed vehicle design;
- Defective fuel tanks; and
- Malfunctioning seatbelts or airbags.
Vehicle manufacturers and their parts suppliers have a legal duty to design safe automobiles. Auto accident victims hurt by erroneously designed cars, truck, motorcycles, or buses may be eligible for substantial compensation if it can be proved the designer was at fault.
Liability for Accidents Caused by Vehicle Defects
Proving liability in defective vehicle lawsuits may be very difficult. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration may not investigate or force car companies to issue recalls until design flaws become obvious or until there are enough senseless and tragic deaths due to the defective vehicle.
There have even been egregious cases of drivers being prosecuted, blamed for accidents actually caused by by vehicle malfunctions the auto maker knew existed. In 2014, a Texas woman was cleared of manslaughter charges after GM revealed her 2004 Saturn Ion was equipped with a defective ignition switch. The financial and emotional toll had a devastating impact on the driver and her family.
GM installed thousands of vehicles with ignition switches the company knew could deactivate key safety features like airbags and power steering. Candice Anderson spent five years on probation stemming from manslaughter charges after prosecutors held her responsible for losing control of her 2004 Saturn Ion, crashing into a tree, killing her boyfriend in the passenger seat.
Two and a half years and just months before Anderson plead guilty, GM determined its faulty ignition switches were to blame but failed to release the information to the public, much less Anderson’s attorney. Candice Anderson paid a $10,000 fine and suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident.
The tragic case of Candice Anderson is just one of many recent incidents involving defectively designed automobiles. More recently, Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has come under fire for knowingly installing defective airbags in millions of vehicles around the world. Eight deaths and hundreds of serious injuries are blamed on the volatile Takata airbags installed in cars across the U.S.
Contact a Defective Vehicle Attorney
If you or a loved one were seriously hurt in an automobile accident, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced and dedicated auto accident attorney in Los Angeles. Your lawyer may have access to legal resources and investigators necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of your accident and properly establish liability should litigation be necessary.