Whether you own a minivan, a motorcycle, a sports car, an electric car, or a big gas-guzzling SUV or pickup truck, you want a vehicle that is both safe and that does not require constant trips to the repair shop.
Unfortunately, however, too many vehicles today are made with defective parts or with design flaws that can lead to serious traffic accidents and other hazards including tire blowouts, rollovers, and electrical malfunctions. As our Miami car accident lawyers know, severe injuries are often the predictable result.
HOW MANY DEFECTIVE VEHICLES ARE RECALLED IN THE U.S.?
Vehicle defects are far too common, and they put all of us at risk. Over fifty million vehicles in the U.S., for example, were recalled in 2016. That disturbing figure dropped in 2017 to “only” thirty million vehicles, including Hondas, Fiat Chryslers, Hyundais, Fords, and BMWs.
Recalls of defective vehicles are almost never swift or efficient. In some of the recalls, millions of vehicle owners have to be notified. Hundreds of serious injuries – and even some fatalities – may occur before a defect in a vehicle or a part has been confirmed, and a recall is initiated.
In South Florida, if you’ve been injured in a traffic crash caused by a defective vehicle or vehicle part, an experienced Miami car crash lawyers can help you file an injury claim. If your claim prevails, you’ll be compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES – OR CATEGORIES – OF VEHICLE DEFECTS?
Generally speaking, two kinds of product liability claims involve defective vehicles:
Manufacturing defects: These result from mistakes in the manufacturing and production of vehicles.
Design defects: These are more dangerous than manufacturing defects because a faulty design can affect a whole line of vehicles – and can endanger many more people.
Individual vehicles are also sometimes defective when a vehicle has been mishandled in some way at a dealership or en route to a dealership. If a vehicle or parts manufacturer or a dealership has acted negligently, that party can be held liable for an injury victim’s injuries and damages.
HOW ARE OWNERS INFORMED ABOUT RECALLS?
Vehicle manufacturers in the United States are obligated to tell owners about vehicle recalls by certified mail. However, if you move after you’ve bought a vehicle, or if you buy a vehicle that’s pre-owned, you may not get a recall notification.
Here in Florida, some will remember that in 2014, when paramedics discovered Hien Tran in her 2001 Honda Accord near Orlando, they first thought her throat had been slashed, but they later determined that her airbag had exploded and that she died due to flying metallic shrapnel.
One week after the woman’s death, a notice arrived in her mailbox from Honda. The notice told Ms. Tran to have her airbag replaced because it was defective and potentially explosive.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR VEHICLE IS RECALLED?
What measures can you take if you learn – or if you suspect – that your own vehicle is defective or has a defective part that could put you and your loved ones at risk? You can find a list of current vehicle recalls at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website.
When a vehicle is recalled, a dealer should fix the defect or replace the defective part for you at no charge. You might want to have a recalled vehicle towed to the dealership rather than driving it there.
If a crash involves a vehicle that’s been recalled, and if the vehicle’s owner had no knowledge of the recall – or knew about it and failed to act – who is liable for the accident? If you’re injured in a crash with a vehicle that’s defective, what is your recourse? Can you be compensated?
HOW DO YOU PREVAIL WITH A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM?
If you bring a product liability action against a vehicle manufacturer, a parts manufacturer, or a dealership, in order for your claim to prevail, your lawyer must prove at least one of these three assertions:
- The vehicle or part was defective because of at least one design mistake.
- The vehicle or part was defective because of at least one manufacturing mistake.
- The dealer and/or manufacturer provided insufficient warnings and instructions.
Product liability claims against vehicle and vehicle parts manufacturers must be handled by an injury attorney who has substantial experience in product liability cases.
In South Florida, a skilled Miami personal injury attorney will immediately launch an investigation of the crash, safeguard your rights, and discuss your legal options. If you take legal action, your attorney will fight aggressively for the compensation – and the justice – you need.
HOW ARE DEFECTIVE VEHICLE ACCIDENT CASES USUALLY RESOLVED?
After investigating the accident and identifying which party should be held accountable, your lawyer will negotiate for the compensation you need and deserve. Most of these claims in Florida are resolved privately, by the lawyers for both sides, and away from the courtroom.
It rarely happens, but when an acceptable settlement offer is not forthcoming, your lawyer may recommend going to trial and asking the jurors to order the payment of the compensation you seek.
But when your medical expenses are substantial, and when you are unable to return immediately to work, how can you pay for an attorney?
WHAT DOES IT COST TO PURSUE JUSTICE?
Most Florida accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation to the injured victims of negligence. For no cost, an injury victim can find out:
- where you stand legally
- how product liability law applies in your own situation
- what you need to know to make an informed decision about taking legal action
If you take legal action, you will pay no lawyer’s fee upfront or until your lawyer recovers the compensation you seek. Florida’s accident lawyers represent clients on a contingent fee basis – so the “playing field” is level, and every victim of negligence can have a day in court.
If you are hurt in any Florida traffic crash because someone else was negligent – whether it was another driver or a vehicle or part manufacturer – take your case at once to an experienced South Florida accident attorney. If you’re injured by negligence, a good lawyer’s help is your right.