We trust the vehicles we maintain and drive to get us where we’re going safely. In some instances, however, car accidents happen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 32,000 people are killed and two million are injured every year in vehicular collisions. Many of these accidents are related to speeding and drunk and distracted driving; however, there are instances where the vehicle causes the accident because of a defect.
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Act gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to issue vehicle safety standards. They also have the ability to make manufacturers recall vehicles that do not meet the federal safety standards. While millions of vehicles and automotive parts have been recalled since the Act’s birth in 1966, there are still vehicle and auto parts on the market that have the potential to cause accidents.
In the event you are the victim of a car accident caused by a defective vehicle or automotive part, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. In the state of Arkansas, the Little Rock auto product liability lawyers from McMath Woods P.A. can help. Keep reading to find out the most common liability claims, how to identify the negligent party after such an accident, and how product liability claims differ from traffic accident claims.
Types of Auto Product Liability Claims
Airbag and Seatbelt Defects
While airbags and proper seatbelt use have contributed to the decline in accident fatalities, defects with the parts can cause severe injuries. Airbags have the potential to deploy at the wrong time or fail to deploy. Defective seatbelts have torn and unlatched during impact.
Defective Fuel Systems
The fuel system and its tank are a crucial part of any motorized vehicle. If the fuel tank is positioned incorrectly or the welding fails, vehicle fires and explosions may occur in the event of a collision.
Tires failures are a significant cause of rollover accidents. The most common reason for a tire blowout can be attributed to poor tread design and separation.
Uncontrollable acceleration is one of the more terrifying vehicle defects because the vehicle picks up speed without any action from the driver. While manufacturers claim there are no design defects that lead to this issue, crash investigations have found this to be an problem in some cases.
Vehicle Roof Collapse
Roof collapses are more common with cars and SUVs. In the event of an accident, a weak or unsteady roof has the potential to disintegrate.
Identifying the Negligent Party in Your Case
In the event of an auto product liability claim, there may be a variety of parties you can hold accountable for their negligence. This is called the chain of distribution.
Manufacturer. The manufacturer is at the beginning of the distribution chain. Lawsuits with manufacturers can be difficult because of the manufacturer’s size. The manufacturer can be held accountable for defective vehicles or defective parts. Sometimes there are multiple manufacturers.
Shipper. The shipper, or middleman, may be included in the chain of distribution if the vehicle was damaged after the leaving the manufacturer and prior to arriving at the dealership.
Automotive Shop or Car Dealership. Whoever sold the vehicle or the specific part to you may be liable for your accident.
Used Car Dealer. While this is still a developing area of law, in some instances the used car dealership may be held accountable in your auto product liability claim.
Product Liability Claims versus Traffic Accident Claims in Arkansas
If you’re the victim of a car accident, you may be confused as to what type of claim you should file. Even though car accidents and product defects result in personal injury claims, there’s a notable difference between product liability claims and traffic accident claims.
Product liability, including auto product liability, operates under strict liability. With a strict liability case, it’s not always necessary for a victim to prove that someone made a mistake or was at fault for their injury. It is enough to show the product, in this case a vehicle, was defective, the victim was using the product as intended, and the victim suffered an injury as a result of the defective product. To strengthen a product liability claim, an attorney may investigate the manufacturers’ accident record and competing products that are similar in design.
Other personal injury claims, like car accident claims, are governed by the law of negligence. To recover compensation for damages, the victim will need to prove someone else was at fault for their injuries. In the event of a car accident, the victim may be able to prove the negligent driver was under the influence or texting.
It’s important to note that in rare instances where you are hit by a negligent driver and your vehicle malfunctioned, like if your airbag failed to deploy, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the driver and a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
The Benefit of a Little Rock Auto Product Liability Lawyer
At McMath Woods P.A., we believe the manufacturers of dangerous auto parts should be held accountable for their negligence. Our Arkansas auto product liability lawyers are prepared to represent you in what can be a complex legal battle. For more information, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll work hard to get you a full and fair settlement.