“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Automobiles did not exist when this proverb first came into use. But now, in an age when passenger vehicles contain approximately 30,000 parts, the saying is certainly pertinent. A vehicle that functions perfectly in all other respects can be extremely dangerous if it was manufactured with even one defective part.
Worse still, the vehicle’s owner may have no idea the defect exists. Most personal-use vehicles do not undergo routine inspections. Faulty parts may be located where they would not be discovered during an inspection anyway. If enough of the same part fail, the manufacturer will issue a recall, but the notice letter may never reach the owner. What this all means is that a car owner may not learn about a faulty part until it causes a crash and someone gets hurt.
Neale & Fhima represents people in Southern California who have been injured in a car accident caused by a defective part. We also help people across the state who purchased or leased a lemon vehicle. If you need assistance with either of these issues, please contact our office now.
Three Legal Theories for Holding Manufacturers Liable
A sudden mechanical failure can have devastating consequences if it occurs at the wrong moment. Imagine yourself driving down the 405 freeway. Traffic is light and you are traveling at 65 mph. All at once, the tread on one of your rear tires separates from the tire, causing your vehicle to fishtail and then roll over multiple times. Your life may never be the same after an accident like this. The companies that designed, produced, and sold the faulty tire must be held responsible. Here are three ways that can happen:
- Strict Liability. If victims of accidents caused by faulty parts were required to prove what went wrong in the manufacturing process, obtaining compensation would be too difficult. Fortunately, strict liability removes this burden. Victims need to show only that the part was on the vehicle, that it malfunctioned, and that the vehicle crashed as result.
- Negligence. If the mistake that led to the defective part’s being placed on the vehicle is known, a negligence claim may be available. The victim must show that the company that made the mistake failed to act reasonably under the circumstances. Negligence theory applies to every entity involved with the car part, from engineers to retailers, whether located in the U.S. or abroad.
- Breach of Warranty. Unlike strict liability and negligence, breach of warranty theory is not designed to compensate injury victims. Rather, it protects consumers from getting stuck with a new vehicle that does not work properly. Filing a lawsuit is rarely necessary. Car owners in California should start by contacting a lemon law attorney to see if a refund or replacement vehicle is available.
Examples of Faulty Parts that Cause Accidents
According to accident statistics published by the California Highway Patrol, brake problems caused 28 collisions in Los Angeles County last year. More than a dozen people were hurt in these crashes. Of course, brakes are just one of many automobile parts that can malfunction and cause an accident. Here are some others:
- Wheel studs, lug nuts, and bearing assemblies
- Steering components
- Suspension (leading to rollover crashes)
- Child car seats
- Fuel or ignition systems (may cause fires)
- Acceleration controls
- Gear shift levers
- Tire jacks
- Windshield wipers.
Identifying and preserving a faulty part after a crash is a time-sensitive matter. It must also be conducted properly, so the evidence will be admissible in later court proceedings if necessary. Further complications will arise if you were hurt in an accident caused by a faulty part in the vehicle belonging to the other driver. For these reasons, victims should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Helping Car Accident Victims in Southern California
Neale & Fhima has personal injury offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. We also meet with lemon law clients at our San Francisco office, and telephone consultations are available anywhere in the state. Fill out our contact form or call (888) 708-7013.