Many car accidents are caused by negligent or reckless drivers who do not look out for the safety of others on the road. However, a good number of accidents can be blamed on defective automobile parts. In these situations, neither driver is at fault for the accident. Instead, the fault lies with the manufacturer of the defective part or the manufacturer of the car. If you have been injured in a car accident, you might be able to sue the manufacturer or others for injuries caused by the accident.
Defective Brake Systems
Poorly designed or manufactured brakes can lead to horrifying crashes. One minute you driving down the highway, the next you are frantically pumping on your brakes to no avail in order to avoid hitting cars in front of you. When brakes fail, accidents are sure to follow unless you can somehow slow the vehicle in another way, such as pulling onto a grassy median or crashing into a barrier.
- Brakes are very complex, and when there is a design defect any of the following could result:
- Hydraulic lines that leak
- Brakes that overheat
- Calipers that crack
Tire blowouts can be unexpected and devastating. Drivers who experience a blowout may lose control of the vehicle and struggle to keep it from pulling them into the other lane and into oncoming traffic. Frequently, the driver compounds the problem by overcompensating for the blown tire. As they feel the car jerk, they instinctively pull too hard on the steering wheel. This response can lead to rollovers, which cause many deaths every year.
Tread separation is one cause of tire blowouts. The tread separates from the casing or body, causing drivers to lose control. Sometimes, a mistake in the adhesive chemical compound renders it too weak to keep the tread and casing together. This design defect is avoidable and can lead directly to accidents.
Malfunctioning Windshield Wipers
You need functional windshield wipers to see where you are going. When heavy rain or hail falls, drivers will be blinded unless they can quickly clear the windshield. If your windshield wipers don’t work—or if they work poorly—an accident can quickly ensue.
Of course, not all malfunctioning windshield wipers are defective. For example, windshield wipers won’t work as well when they have ice or snow on them. After a very cold morning, you might need to clear the wiper of ice or frost so that it can wipe properly. Also, the windshield wiper fuse might burn out, which happens over time, and may not necessarily be a sign that the windshield wipers were malfunctioning.
Steering Wheel Failure
In March 2018, Ford recalled 1.3 million cars because the steering wheels might fall off the steering column. In particular, the bolts that join the steering wheel to the column could loosen over time and ultimately fall off, leaving drivers unable to control their vehicles. Had Ford designed its steering column properly, the steering wheel should not have fallen off, and accidents could have been avoided. According to reports, this particular defect caused at least two accidents.
Airbags are meant to protect us in a crash. As your vehicle impacts another object, the vehicle slows or stops, but your body continues to move forward. If nothing stops your forward momentum, you can slam your head into the steering wheel, the dashboard, or the windshield. Although a defective airbag rarely causes an accident itself, its failure may increase your chances of suffering a devastating injury in a collision.
- Defectively designed airbags can fail for many reasons:
- The crash sensors do not work or were not placed in the proper place.
- The airbag’s inflation system does not work properly, failing to inflate the bag.
- The airbag inflation system shoots out metal shrapnel along with the airbag.
- The airbag inflates too quickly or too slowly.
Proving a Design Defect
To hold the manufacturer legally responsible for your accident, you need to show that the vehicle part was unreasonably dangerous because of a design defect. In Florida, you can prove a design defect by showing that the product did not operate as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when using the product as intended. This is the “consumer expectations test.” Steering wheels that fall off, brakes that fail, and airbags that don’t inflate should easily satisfy this test.
Some confusion continues to exist about whether consumers can also show a design defect by using an alternate test, the “risk-utility” test. The Florida Supreme Court has rejected that test. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has also said that injured consumers can argue that there is an alternative design that is safer than the one used, and defendants can argue that no reasonable alternative design exists. Oddly, these factors have no meaningful role in the consumer expectations test, so it is unclear why the Florida Supreme Court has endorsed their application in a defective products case.
Because this is a very confusing area of law, you need a products liability attorney who understands how the law has developed and where it currently stands. At Dolman Law Group, we have substantial experience in products liability cases and understand the intricacy of these types of case as few law firms do.
Speak With a Clearwater, Florida Products Liability AttorneyDesign defects put the safety of the consumer public at risk. Manufacturers must be held accountable when their defective products cause injury or death. If you have suffered an injury and think a defective design may be to blame, contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultation today. Our team of products liability attorneys will advise you of your legal rights and develop a plan for gathering the evidence you need to achieve a favorable outcome. Call 727-451-6900 or fill out our online contact form.