When most U.S. drivers think of car accidents, they picture a collision between two or more vehicles or a crash caused by negligent or reckless driving, like a rollover. But not all accidents are caused by carelessness behind the wheel.
Many car accidents and injuries in motor vehicles result from defective parts, designs, or warnings in vehicles that pose hidden dangers to anyone riding in the vehicle. These accidents are broadly covered by the area of law known as "auto product liability."
Lawsuits involving auto product liability deal with who is responsible when a hidden defect in a vehicle, vehicle part, or equipment causes harm.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, our New York product defect lawyers understand the many dangers facing drivers every day and how injured victims can recover from their losses. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective vehicle, don’t face automakers on your own. Call our legal team today at (212) 986-7353 at start your case off right with a free consultation.
Most types of auto product liability defects fall into one of three categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, and warning defects.
Manufacturing defects are problems with how a vehicle or any part of it has been physically constructed. These parts are designed to be reasonably safe, but they have been fabricated or assembled in a way that makes them unreasonably dangerous to the average user.
For example, imagine a vehicle in which the frame is held together with a series of bolts. When the bolts are made of steel that is the proper hardness and strength, the frame works as intended, protecting the passengers inside from injury in a wide range of possible crash scenarios. However, when bolts made of softer material are substituted for the proper ones, the frame has a hidden manufacturing defect that may cause it to break or buckle in a crash, posing an unacceptable risk of harm to those inside. The bolts create a manufacturing defect in the vehicle.
Manufacturing defects are particularly dangerous because they often cannot be detected even by trained mechanics. These defects are frequently not discovered until after an accident has already occurred.
A design defect is a problem with the design of a vehicle or any of its parts that renders the vehicle unreasonably dangerous for average use. In a design defect, the materials and assembly of the vehicle or its parts are correct: the problem is in the way the vehicle or its parts are designed.
For instance, automatic window controls were designed to raise the window if the switch was pushed down for many years. This meant that if a child knelt on the window controls while trying to lean out of the open window, the window might be triggered to close around the child, causing suffocation or other serious injuries. The switches and window worked correctly and were made out of the proper materials, but the design posed an unreasonable risk of harm. Today, most auto manufacturers use switches that raise the window when the switch is lifted, eliminating the possibility of a child accidentally raising the window by pushing down on the switch.
Warnings defects occur when a vehicle or vehicle part is manufactured and designed correctly, but it still poses a hidden danger due to improper labeling. Not all items can be made to both work correctly and be completely safe, so warning labels must alert users of what possible dangers are involved with their use.
When a vehicle or part cannot be made reasonably safe and still do its job, warnings are required to alert users to the potential danger and give directions on how to avoid it. If these warnings are absent and a user is injured, the vehicle or part may be said to have a warnings defect.
For instance, when an airbag works correctly, it inflates rapidly during a crash to protect passengers - but this same action can cause serious harm if a rear-facing child seat is put in the front seat instead of an adult passenger. If the vehicle lacks a warning about this danger, a driver may make this serious mistake, leading to a dangerous accident.
Whether or not auto manufacturers knew about a vehicle defect before your accident, they will fight to prevent paying you the compensation you deserve for your losses. As such, you deserve to fight back with the help of a skilled and experienced New York auto product liability lawyer. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 to a free consultation on your case with a member of our skilled legal team.
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