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Proving vehicle defect after an auto accident

Written by Ankin Law Office

An attorney for car accident injuries can help

When motorists purchase a vehicle, they put their complete trust in the manufacturers and workers who built it. In many instances, however, defects in these vehicles can cause or contribute to accidents, some of which become fatal or cause victims lasting injury. Any Illinois attorney for car accident injuries should be aware of the specific requirements that must be followed to prove that a vehicle defect is responsible for at least some of the damages that a driver and their occupants sustained in an accident.

What is vehicle defect?

A vehicle defect is a type of product liability that is specific to the auto industry. If parts of a vehicle are prone to break and cause dangerous situations, the manufacturers can be held liable for the damages that the defective parts cause. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for making manufacturers meet certain safety standards, and when they fail to do so, the NHTSA instructs auto makers to issue recalls. According to the NHTSA, over 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires, and 66 million defective vehicle parts have been recalled since the practice started in 1966. Unfortunately, many defects are still not discovered until it is too late.

Proving a case

When accident victims or their attorneys believe a defective part on a vehicle caused or contributed to their car accidents, the law requires them to prove that specific things occurred in order to prove liability exists. In Illinois, accident victims to prove the following:

  • The defect actually existed in the vehicle.
  • The defect made the vehicle unreasonably dangerous.
  • The defect existed at the time the vehicle left the manufacturer’s control.
  • The Plaintiff was damaged.
  • The Plaintiff’s damages were cause by, in whole or in part, by the defect.

Defects in a vehicle can come from many sources, including parts manufacturers, assembly errors, and design. The crux of a case lies in proving that a defect existed. To do so, the vehicle must be preserved in its entirety. Although this may sound obvious, many parties make the mistake of handing the vehicle over to the insurance company almost immediately. In cases of extreme damage, these vehicles are almost always picked for parts and then destroyed. It is imperative that accident victims who believe a defect may have been involved retain possession of their vehicle until they learn otherwise.

These defects cost lives

Reuters recently reported that as many as 27 deaths and 25 injuries have been tied to a defective ignition switch in some General Motors vehicles. These faulty switches may slip out of their correct position, leading the vehicle to stall and disabling the airbags. It recently came to light that GM has known for 11 years about the problem but failed to do anything about it until this year. A total of 1,371 claims for compensation for serious injury and death have been made in connection with the faulty switches.

Categories: Auto Accidents