A motor vehicle should be designed in a way that ensures that a vehicle is safe and does not contain any flaws or defects. The tiniest of defects has the ability to cause massive amounts of property damage and injury if a vehicle with a structural defect is involved in a crash. Unfortunately, this can happen when an auto maker tries to cut costs and their money saving techniques lead to an unsafe vehicle design that has structural defects.
For instance, it has been shown that auto manufacturers will often try to save money by using cheaper materials to create a vehicle’s back seats. This can have devastating effects during an accident since the seats in a car are often designed to account for potential scenarios in an accident. Thus, if a back seat (which normally holds a child) is designed with cheap material or in a way that will not stabilize the passengers in a crash, then the damages could be deadly.
Another example of a structural defect that may be found in a motor vehicle is when a vehicle comes equipped with a leaky or defective gas tank. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it will also cost the vehicle owner money to repair the tank and to waste money on gas until they notice the defect. In addition, it can cause a vehicle to catch fire and explode in the event of a collision.
If you believe that your vehicle contains a structural defect or if you have been injured as a result of a structural defect in a motor vehicle accident, you should speak to a local personal injury lawyer for further guidance immediately.
A lawyer can make sure that you gather key pieces of evidence to support your claim and can help you file a lawsuit against an auto manufacturer company. Your lawyer can also assist you in negotiating with an auto insurance company if necessary and can offer important legal advice throughout the process.
What Happens When There Is a Structural Defect?
When a motor vehicle that has a structural defect is involved in an accident, the chances of there being an injury or death associated with that accident increases exponentially. The reason for this is because a structural defect can cause a vehicle to collapse in a way that it normally would not if the vehicle was not defective.
For example, the frame of the vehicle could be bent or dented in a way that should not be possible, making it more likely than not that someone will be injured in the event of an accident. Another example that may qualify as a type of structural defect is when the seatbelts in a vehicle unlock during an accident. This can leave the driver or another passenger unbuckled almost immediately upon impact.
If an individual has experienced either of the two examples mentioned above or is a victim of some other type of vehicle structural defect, then they should begin collecting evidence of any resulting damages or injuries caused by the vehicle structural defect. They may also want to hire a lawyer to find out whether they can file a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle and recover damages.
Finally, it should be noted that the owner of a vehicle with structural defects should make no attempts to fix the defects if an accident has already occurred and they plan on filing a lawsuit. Fixing the defect before the lawsuit can destroy important evidence and they may end up losing their case as well as any damages that they may be rightfully owed.
What Are Some Examples of Structural Defects?
There are many different ways that a structural defect may appear in a vehicle. Some examples that are frequently cited when discussing structural defects in vehicles include the following:
- Installing seat belts that are defective (e.g., if they do not lock properly or if the belt is not long enough);
- Having air bags that either deploy too forcefully or not at all;
- Placing tires on a vehicle that are old or defective;
- Constructing a door frame that is too weak for a vehicle;
- Building or attaching other faulty parts to a vehicle (e.g., door locks, door latches, the main body of the vehicle, etc.);
- Using a lower grade of steel or other material to make a vehicle, which can cause the vehicle to bend or break in the event of a motor vehicle accident;
- Applying a structural adhesive like an industrial type of glue, as opposed to welding parts of the vehicle together that would allow for them to break apart in an accident; and/or
- Designing a poorly constructed safety cage, which will lessen a passenger’s chances of being able to avoid injury in an accident.
Why Do Structural Defects Occur?
In most cases, a structural defect in a vehicle will typically occur as a result of negligent conduct. Negligent actions can arise in a number of ways. For example, a third-party manufacturer who is responsible for only making a single part for the vehicle could be careless or mistaken over how to ensure that the part meets certain safety standards.
Another example of when a party may be held liable for negligence is if an automobile company was attempting to cut down on its costs and the cost saving techniques that they used resulted in creating a structural defect in a vehicle.
For instance, many auto companies are under pressure to fulfill energy and fuel efficiency requirements. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest way for auto companies to do this is by building a car that uses lighter materials, such as a form of steel that is flimsier or not as heavy as the original steel material for a vehicle.
To continue saving on costs, however, an auto company may use steel that is actually lighter, but could also be cheaper and less safe than an alternative lightweight version of steel that costs more and is stronger overall. In addition, another cost-saving measure seems to be that an auto company will opt to use a cheaper structural adhesive (i.e., glue) instead of the more expensive process of welding.
In other words, when an auto company or manufacturer sacrifices good and/or strong materials in exchange for cheaper resources that will conform to energy and fuel efficiency standards, then such practices can lead to some serious safety risks.
If My Car Has a Structural Defect, Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and you believe that your injuries are the result of a structural defect in your vehicle, then you should contact a local auto lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced products and services lawyer will be able to assess your claim based on the facts of your individual case and the laws of your jurisdiction.
If your lawyer determines that you have a viable claim, then they can help you file a lawsuit to collect damages. Your lawyer can also advise you about your rights, protections, and legal remedies under the current laws. Additionally, your lawyer will know which parties to add as defendants to your case since some lawsuits may involve multiple people or issues.
Lastly, your lawyer will be able to provide legal representation in court, at related settlement meetings, and/or during an alternative method of dispute resolution (e.g., arbitration).