Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
Common Dangerous Automobile Defects
We don’t expect that vehicle accidents will be caused by dangerous automobile defects. Or, if we are in an automobile collision, we hope that our vehicles are built to keep us safe from unnecessary injuries. But reality is different than expectations. The fact that tens of millions of vehicles are recalled by automakers every year shows that many vehicles simply fail to provide some basic safety features that we expect.[i]
Cars defects and defective automobile parts come in many forms. But many of the car defects that commonly occur are of two general types. The first are those types of defects that can cause a vehicle to crash. It might be steering defects, bad tires, or something else.
The second type of defects are those that do not cause the car crash, but they fail to keep a car occupant safe from the expected results of an automobile crash. In other words, for this second category of defects, the car is in a collision for which the occupant should be safe, but, due to a defect with the safety components in the vehicle, the occupant suffers a significant injury or even death.
Common Dangerous Automobile Defects[ii]
Dangerous automobile defects can come in many different forms. Here is a list of the most common dangerous automobile defects:
- Defects with steering components that break or malfunction and cause loss of control. Modern cars have sophisticated steering systems that include power steering, wiring, electronics, hydraulics, and other components. A car’s steering system may pose an unreasonable risk or injury or death if any of these components fails and causes a loss of control. General Motors recently recalled 1.5 million vehicles for a defect of electronic power-steering assist, which is an example of this type of danger.[iii]
- Defects with design or operation of car fuel system that increase risk or cause vehicle fires. Over time, some cars have had defective fuel system designs or constructions that cause or increase the risk of fire. This includes the risk of post-collision fires. These defects can cause serious burn injuries or death from fires or explosions. Mazda recently recalled nearly 70,000 RX-8 sports cars due to the risk of fire.[iv]
- Airbag Defects and Failures. There are a number of dangers that can be related to defective airbags in cars. It may be the case that airbags do not deploy when required, thereby failing to protect drivers and passengers.[v] Other problems include improper inflation or improper deploying, which causes inflation when not expected or at an improper time. A third problem is a defect with the construction of the airbags, which is the massive problem with Takata airbags.[vi]
- Accelerator, cruise control, and software defects that cause the accelerator to stick or break, resulting in an unintended acceleration. Unintended accelerator situations result when a driver loses control because the car takes off and cannot be controlled. This could be caused by a number of issues, including mechanical, electronic, and software defects. Common examples of this defect include the Toyota sudden acceleration problems[vii] and the Kia Soul recalls.[viii]
- Dangerous or recalled tires. Investigations have shown that there are inadequate systems in place to notify consumers of defective tires that have been recalled.[ix] Tire defects can come in many forms, such a tread separation or tire detreading, rotted tires, tire blowouts, tire bead failures, tire zipper failures and ruptures, old tires, and faulty tire stems.
- Seatback failure of driver or passenger seat in a car. A common type of automobile accident is a rear-end collision, when one vehicle strikes a vehicle ahead of them. When this happens, there is a possibility that the seats holding the driver and the front passenger can collapse backwards, causing the driver or passenger to be thrown behind their seated position. This can also cause catastrophic injury or even death to occupants in the backseat of the vehicle, who are often children.[x]
- Wiring system defects that cause a vehicle fire, loss of control, or loss of lighting. Not only can car fires and loss of control issues be caused by defectively designed or defective fuel tanks and systems, but fires and other problems can result from defects with a car’s wiring. In 2016, Fiat Chrysler recalled 410,000 vehicles due to wiring problems that created a danger of loss of control.[xi]
- Child safety seats or booster seats that are defective or unsafe because of improper belts, buckles, or other components. To check to see if the child car safety seat you are using for your kids has been recalled, please visit the NHTSA’s database to search for your child’s seat.
- Rollover and Roof Crushes. Rollover accidents became more prevalent with the introduction of sport utility vehicles, also called SUVs, into the automobile market. Rollover crashes can be due to a number of causes, such as defective tires, excessive speed, top heavy loads, or even driver error. If a car’s roof is defectively designed or poorly built, the injuries caused by the accident can be magnified, leading even to death, brain injuries, or spinal injuries.
- Seat-belt failures. When an accident happens, seatbelts are supposed to protect drivers and passengers from being thrown or ejected from their seats. But defects with the design or manufacture of seat belts may cause seat belts to malfunction in a number of ways. Seatbelts might become unbuckled from the force of an accident. The mechanical pieces of the latch may be defective. The fabric of the belt may be worn or defective. The seatbelt may not be mounted properly. These defects and others can lead to devastating injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
When accidents are caused or made worse by automobile defects, catastrophic injuries or even death can result. The personal injury attorneys of MartinWren, P.C. have the experience and compassion necessary to help you and your family deal with obtaining compensation in these types of cases. For a free consultation, please contact one of our product liability attorneys, Robert E. Byrne, Jr. Bob can be reached by phone at (434) 817-3100.
[ii] Each of these defects are actual defects addressed by the NHTSA. http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/recallprocess.cfm