What Happens When a Defect Causes a Car Accident?

Millions of traffic accidents take place throughout the country each year, and most are the result of someone’s negligence. When most of us think of a negligent party, or a person at fault in an accident, we immediately envision the driver of one of the vehicles involved. But defects in a vehicle can also cause or contribute to a collision. Imagine the following scenario:

You are driving on the highway in a vehicle that you purchased just three months ago. You have your seatbelt on, are not exceeding the speed limit, and the weather conditions are favorable. You see that traffic has slowed ahead of you, so you move your foot to the brake, except the vehicle does not slow down. Instead, it accelerates.

Unfortunately, scenarios similar to this played out across the country a few years ago when some Toyota owners realized that their vehicles had the “sudden acceleration” or “sticky pedal” defect. While the Toyota defects were widely publicized because of the tragic results and the volume of vehicles affected, Toyota is hardly the only car maker to introduce serious defects during manufacturing. Thousands of vehicles are subject to recalls every year for defects. In most cases, the defect is minor and does not put motorists at serious risk; however, some defects are potentially life threatening.

How to Know If a Vehicle Has a Defect

Most of us do the best we can to ensure that a vehicle we are purchasing is safe and if it is used, to ensure that it has been well maintained. You may check reliability and safety ratings and have a mechanic look over the vehicle. However, these steps may not be enough to warn you about a defect. If a vehicle has been subject to a recall, the information will be listed on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website. Not only should you check for recalls before you buy a vehicle, but you should check periodically afterward for any updates. Not only will this result in the manufacturer fixing the defect free of charge, but it could save lives.

Who is Responsible If a Defect Caused a Collision?

Two types of defects typically apply to vehicles – manufacturing defects and design defects. A design defect is inherent in the design and will typically be present in all vehicles manufactured with that design. A manufacturing defect occurs during manufacturing and will be present in only some of the vehicles. In either case, if a defect caused or contributed to an accident, then a number of parties could potentially be liable including:

  • Manufacturer
  • Wholesaler
  • Retailer
  • Third-party repair company

Deciding who should be held accountable for a collision caused by a defective vehicle can be complicated and require a thorough investigation. Sometimes suing all the possibly negligent parties is the best way to proceed.

Talk To a Washington State Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a collision and you believe that a vehicle defect was partially or entirely to blame, you may be entitled to compensation. The Washington State car accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.