Woman checking her defective car

Who Is Responsible For Accidents Caused By Vehicle Defects?

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

Not all automobile accidents are caused by driver negligence, and in many cases, the accident may not even be due to a driver at all. Defects with the vehicle could be to blame. Uncovering how and why the defect was present in your automobile can take time and involve an extensive investigation. With Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C., you have a dedicated law firm working for you each step of the way. Here’s what you need to know about accidents caused by vehicle defects.

Different types of defects

Recognizing that an accident was due to a vehicle defect, rather than driver error, is challenging. The first question someone has after being in an accident is what, if anything, the other driver did to contribute to it. Most defects are not obvious, although some – such as blowouts caused by defective tires – are.

Defects usually result from either a design flaw or a manufacturing error. A design flaw makes the vehicle inherently dangerous, no matter how it is built. On the other hand, a vehicle component, part, or system may be safely designed but built or assembled incorrectly. Pinpointing which type of defect is involved is important for assigning liability.

These are a few examples of vehicle defects that can cause accidents:

  • High centers of gravity that cause rollovers
  • Gas tanks that can easily catch fire in an accident
  • Faulty brakes that lock or fail to slow the vehicle
  • Airbags that fail to deploy, deploy when they shouldn’t, or deploy with excessive force
  • Sticking or breaking accelerators that cause uncontrollable speeding
  • Electrical system issues that cause loss of power or lighting in the vehicle
  • Tires that blow out, shred, or otherwise fail under normal usage
  • Steering wheel components that are defective and cause loss of control

How a vehicle defect can cause injuries

A vehicle defect may be either the primary cause of an accident or a secondary cause of additional injuries to the accident victim. A primary cause means that, but for the defect, the accident likely would not have happened. For instance, faulty brakes could easily cause an accident if they lock up or fail to decelerate the automobile.

A secondary cause essentially aggravates an accident. Let’s say an automobile crashes due to driver error. The driver can be held liable for that. But after the accident, the gas tank explodes or catches fire (a real life example of a vehicle defect), causing severe burns to the accident victim. The manufacturer of the vehicle or gas tank can be held liable.

Pursuing compensation for an accident involving vehicle defects

As indicated above, accidents don’t always have a single cause. There may be multiple causes attributable to different parties. Part of what your automobile accident attorney will do is conduct an investigation of the crash to determine why it happened. Input from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists, will likely be necessary.

If it is determined that a vehicle defect was at least partially responsible for the victim’s injuries, multiple parties could be held liable. They include:

  • The automobile manufacturer
  • The factory that built or assembled the automobile
  • A parts or components supplier
  • The car dealer from which the vehicle was purchased
  • A repair shop that used faulty materials

All of these parties, and others, are responsible for the products they produce and sell and the work they do. Manufacturers of vehicles, parts, and components, as well as car dealers, are legally obligated to ensure their products are reasonably safe and to warn consumers about known or likely safety hazards. Mechanics and repair shops are required to safely perform their services on vehicles.

Injured In An Automobile Accident? Count On Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C.

Our objective is to hold all responsible parties liable after an automobile accident. If a vehicle defect was responsible for your injuries, give our team a call today.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.