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Defective Parts/Design Accidents

Motor vehicles are complex machines made up of thousands of smaller interlocking and interdependent parts. If any of these parts break, especially if they’re involved in a crucial system, they can severely impact the vehicle’s performance and make it unsafe to drive.

This is why automakers issue a recall when they discover a defect with their vehicles. In fact, in 2020, both Ford and General Motors issued vehicle recalls impacting more than 500,000 vehicles on the roads. Ford has recalled about 375,200 Explorers from the 2013-17 model years that may have issues with their suspension systems. Meanwhile, GM has recalled about 194,000 vehicles over a possible defect that can cause a transmission oil leak, leading to vehicles losing power unexpectedly or catching on fire.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and suspect that a defective part was to blame, contact the team at the Pfeifer Law firm right away. Paul Pfeifer is a Little Rock native who has dedicated himself to finding justice for motor-vehicle accident victims. Pfeifer has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating the agency gives out. He’s also certified to practice in every state and federal court across Arkansas, as well as the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Our Little Rock car accident team is ready to answer any questions you may have about defective parts accidents as well as our legal services. Get a free case review today by calling (501) 374-4440 or visiting our contact page.

How Vehicle Parts Defects Occur

There are two major categories of vehicle parts defects: Design defects and manufacturing defects. Design defects are when something is wrong with the fundamental design of some part, making a vehicle unsafe in some way. 

One example of a design defect occurred in August of 2019, when Ford recalled more than 100,000 vehicles over an issue with seat belts in their Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models. The issue concerned a device in the seat belts called a pretensioner that could malfunction, leading to a greater risk of injury in a crash.

A vehicle manufacturing defect is when the design of a part is sound, but something goes wrong in the manufacturing process. GM’s 2020 transmission oil leak recall is a good example of a manufacturing defect. The design of the transmission system in the affected vehicles was fine, but because of a computer glitch at an auto parts supplier, some vehicles were missing some key bolts to prevent leaks from occurring.

Regardless of how the defects occur, any missing or defective part in a vehicle should be a serious concern for drivers.

Common Defective Parts in Vehicles

By some estimates, cars have around 30,000 or more parts, any one of which can break under the right circumstances. Some of the car parts or systems that most commonly have defects include:

  • Brakes
  • Airbags
  • Seats
  • Seat belts
  • Ignition switches
  • Electrical wiring systems
  • Wheels and tires
  • Fuel systems
  • Gas tanks
  • Vehicle frames
  • Transmissions
  • Clutch components
  • Lights
  • Engine components

Compensation for Defective Parts Accidents

If you are injured in a car accident caused by a defective part, you are entitled to file a claim against the party responsible for your injuries. Should you prevail in your claim, you could potentially be compensated for:

  • The cost of any medical care you needed as a result of your injuries, as well as any future care you may need
  • The value of any missed wages if you had to miss work while you were healing from your injuries
  • Any property that was damaged in the accident, including the value of your vehicle
  • Your reduced ability to work and earn a living as a result of your injuries, if your injuries resulted in a long-term or permanent disability
  • The pain and suffering caused by your injuries
  • Any mental or emotional suffering caused by your injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or a diminished quality of life
  • The loss of financial and/or emotional support from a family member who was injured or killed in the accident, if applicable

Potentially Liable Parties in a Defective Parts Accident

The manufacturer of your vehicle may not be the sole party liable for your injuries in a defective parts accident. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, they may not actually be liable at all. The potentially liable parties in a defective parts accident include:

  • The manufacturer of the defective part – If the part broke as a result of how it was made, not how it was designed, then the manufacturer of the part bears at least some responsibility for the accident and your resulting injuries.
  • The designer of the defective part – If the defect is the fault of a design issue and not a manufacturing problem, then the designers of the part are the ones who are liable for causing the accident.
  • The marketer of the product – In some defective parts cases, the accident occurred because the company that marketed the part did not provide instructions or adequate warnings about how the product should be used. In these cases, the marketers are the ones who are liable for the accident.
  • Dealerships and mechanics – In some instances, there’s no issue with how a part is designed or manufactured, but it’s installed incorrectly by a dealer or mechanic. In cases like these, the party who installed the part is the one who is liable for the crash.

How Do I Know If My Vehicle Has Been Recalled Due to a Defective Part?

Vehicle manufacturers are supposed to send you a notice if your car has been recalled due to a defective part. However, this system doesn’t always work as well as it should. 

If you think your vehicle has a defective part, your best bet is to visit Safercar.gov and enter your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). That should tell you if your vehicle is subject to an open recall. You can also bring your vehicle to a mechanic for examination if you think there’s a problem.

Our Arkansas Defective Parts Attorneys Are Ready to Talk to You

Don’t wait to get the compensation you deserve after an accident caused by a defective car part. Get a free initial consultation from our team today by calling (501) 374-4440 or visiting our contact page.