Motor vehicle accidents are extremely common in the United States, injuring or killing thousands each year. Though an accident rarely feels like a commonplace occurrence to those involved, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Center for Statistics and Analysis shows a staggering 6.3 million car or truck accidents were reported to police in 2015.
While 94 percent of accidents are attributed to driver error, not every accident is the result of drivers behaving badly. Some car and truck crashes are caused by things the driver may not see or even know about, such as defective components on or inside the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 2 percent of accidents reported each year were caused by a malfunctioning or defective vehicle component.
Common Types of Product Defects
Like any product, vehicle components can be potentially hazardous if they're carelessly designed, manufactured, or marketed. When investigators or attorneys talk about faulty or defective vehicle components, they're usually referring to a part that has one of the following types of product defects:
- Defective design. A design defect has the potential to render a product or vehicle component unreasonably dangerous, regardless of how it's manufactured or used. Examples include a seat belt design that increases the risk of abdominal injury, or a door latch that fails to open or opens unexpectedly.
- Manufacturing defect. Products and components in this category have an appropriate design, but may have been assembled incorrectly or made with inferior materials. Examples include components put together with the wrong fasteners or adhesives.
- Warning defect. If a product or vehicle component has a warning defect, it means the manufacturer failed to properly label it to warn consumers of the risks associated with its use. Examples include a front passenger-side airbag that doesn't warn against placing a rear-facing car seat in that spot.
Who Recalls Defective Components and Vehicles?
In the United States, vehicle recalls are usually initiated by the manufacturer or the NHTSA, which is the federal agency that regulates vehicle safety. The decision to issue a recall can be based on the manufacturer's internal studies, or studies or reports from the NHTSA. If the manufacturer won't issue a voluntary recall, the NHTSA can force the issue with a court order. Manufacturers court-ordered to recall a vehicle or component usually comply in an effort to avoid a public relations disaster.
Component Defects That Could Potentially Initiate a Recall
It's important to note that not all flawed products are recalled. In fact, recalls are only issued for products and components with defects that pose a risk to the safety of the consumer. This means flaws such as common wear and tear, rust, chipping or fading paint, or defective air conditioning or stereo systems are unlikely to trigger a recall.
Examples of component flaws and defects that could potentially initiate a recall include:
- Cracking tires
- Faulty windshield wipers
- Defective seat belts
- Accelerator pedals that stick
- Faulty steering systems that make it difficult to control the vehicle
- Defective latches that allow seats to recline unexpectedly
- Airbag systems that deploy too easily
- Faulty wiring that increases the risk of a vehicle fire
- Leaky fuel systems
- Components that break or fall from the vehicle
Do You Need a Car Accident or Product Liability Attorney?
Vehicle manufacturers are required to ensure the products they sell are safe for consumers. If you were injured in a car or truck accident caused by a defective vehicle component, you may be entitled to compensation.
Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your accident case with a legal professional.