A defective product is a product that has an imperfection making it unreasonably dangerous to consumers. These imperfections are generally associated with either the design or manufacturing of the product, and the dangerous nature of the imperfection can result in physical harm.
Claims involving defective products fall into one of three categories:
- Defective Design: The product was manufactured correctly, but there is an error or defect in the actual design of the product, making it dangerous to consumers. Cases of design defects frequently involve claims that the defendant did not use a “reasonable design alternative” that was less dangerous, but still economically feasible.
- Examples of a design defect include a car that has a tendency to flip over when turning sharp corners; children’s toys that contain choking hazards; and an electric blanket that can electrocute the user when turned on the highest setting.
- Defective Manufacturing: The product was properly designed, but something happened during the manufacturing process to cause a flaw in this individual product. As a result, this particular product is different and more dangerous when compared to others. In cases of defective manufacturing, the defective product in question is considered to be “dangerous beyond the expectation of the ordinary consumer.” Companies may initiate product recalls once they are aware of the possibility of manufacturing defects.
- An example of defective manufacturing would be cough syrup that has been contaminated with foreign objects in the factory.
- Insufficient or Inadequate Warnings: All products must include clear and complete warnings of any dangers that may not be immediately apparent. Inadequate warnings can be considered as a type of design defect if they do not warn consumers of the dangers of using the product.
- An example of this would be how prescription drugs must include information about drug interactions, side effects, and other warnings.
What Are Motor Vehicle Defects?
The term “motor vehicle defects” refers to any faults in a motor vehicle which result from the actions of the vehicle’s manufacturer. In terms of motor vehicle defect claims, the term “motor vehicle” extends to include trucks, vans, buses, and motorcycles.
What this means is that the term is not limited to passenger cars; however, the term does not include boats, or any other types of watercraft. In most states, the legal definition of motor vehicle is “any self-propelled vehicle that is designed for operation on land, but does not use rails.”
In a legal context, or a car defects recall, a motor vehicle defect generally only refers to flaws which create safety hazards. This includes flaws resulting in the injury of the operator or passengers. Because of this, aesthetic flaws such as a botched paint job or a misplaced decal are not generally the subject of a successful vehicle defects claim.
Some of the most common examples of claimed motor vehicle defects include:
- Brake and gas pedal defects, such as the pedals getting stuck or jammed;
- Safety equipment defects, such as safety belt or airbag failure;
- Fuel, exhaust, and cooling system defects;
- Misaligned steering mechanisms;
- Structural problems associated with the frame, body, transmission, and/or engine assembly; and/or
- Electrical and computer problems, such as defective keyless fobs.
Federal motor vehicle safety standards are what determine the minimum performance requirements for the parts that will most likely affect the operation of a vehicle. This includes, but may not be limited to:
- Steering wheel;
- Lighting; and/or
- Anything else that is associated with the protection of the drivers and passengers.
What Are Faulty Brake Claims?
Faulty brake claims are generally associated with injuries or property damage resulting from brake system failures in a vehicle. Due to the considerable high speeds involved in some vehicle collisions, a brake failure can be potentially damaging and even fatal. Similar to other motor vehicle defects, faulty brakes can create situations in which a driver or passenger is injured, even though the driver was not negligent.
An example of this would be when a vehicle is traveling down the highway, and the brakes do not properly deploy. Another example would be when a vehicle is traveling or is stopped on a hill, and the brakes fail. These instances can result in a collision, or the vehicle veering off the side of the road.
Faulty brakes may be associated with various legal issues, including:
Such legal claims can also involve disputes or conflicts with other parties, such as insurance companies, car dealerships, or third-party sellers.
Lawsuits over faulty or defective brakes generally result in a damages award for the injured party. This is intended to cover expenses associated with:
- Medical treatment for injuries;
- Wrongful death;
- Damage to the vehicle; and/or
- Property damage caused by the vehicle.
Can I Sue For A Motor Vehicle Defect?
Unlike personal injury claims associated with a vehicle accident, the plaintiff will not need to show that the manufacturer was negligent or careless. Rather, motor vehicle defect cases are generally based on the legal doctrine of product liability.
A products liability claim involves the manufacturer or seller of a product being held accountable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce. Any party responsible for any part of the manufacture of the product could be held liable for resulting injuries, just as any seller may be held liable.
The following parties may all be held liable for any of the injuries caused by the defect:
- The assembling manufacturer;
- The wholesaler;
- The dealer; and
- The manufacturer of the piece that was found to be defective.
In order to prove that the vehicle’s manufacturer was liable for your injuries or losses, you must prove the following elements:
- The motor vehicle had an “unreasonably dangerous defect” which caused your injury or loss;
- The vehicle was being used properly, according to how it was intended to be used. An example of when you likely could not recover would be if you were continually driving the vehicle in the incorrect gear; and
- You did not substantially alter the vehicle from the condition in which it was originally sold. “Substantially altered” refers to the specific way in which the vehicle is intended to perform, and does not refer to maintenance and repairs.
What this means is that even if the vehicle’s manufacturer did not intend for your injuries to occur, or if they were not reckless in their actions, you could still be able to recover if you can meet the above elements.
If several people have been affected by the same defect, you may be able to participate in a class action lawsuit. Alternatively, the manufacturer may issue a recall. Recalls are generally issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or, NHTSA) but can also be issued by the vehicle manufacturer once they have discovered a defect.
If your vehicle or part of your vehicle is being recalled, the manufacturer is required by federal law to notify all registered owners and purchasers. This must be done by first class mail, and they must do so by using state vehicle registration information in order to locate the affected owners.
They must provide all registered owners and purchasers with a free solution to the problem posed by the recall. This remedy can be an entirely new vehicle, free installation of new parts, or money as a type of damages award.
Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Faulty Brake Lawsuits?
If you have experienced injury or damage due to faulty brakes, you should consult with an automobile lawyer immediately. Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and will represent you in court as needed. Additionally, an attorney will likely be aware of any class action lawsuits that you can join.