When Defective Car Parts Lead to Serious Accidents

Ask anyone who has ever survived a motor vehicle accident, and they will likely tell you that the sudden and unexpected collision is one of the most violent and physically threatening encounters one can experience.

Recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Crash Stats report has shown that for 94% of accidents, the critical reason for the crash is attributed to decisions made by one or more drivers. Mechanical failure in a car is credited as the critical reason for a crash in 2% of accidents.

So, are car accidents caused by a mechanical failure such a minority? That 2% figure is, as shown by the NHTSA, unreliable; the related statistics may not be representative of the role of other internal vehicle-related problems as the vehicle related critical reasons were, for the main part, deduced through external visual inspection of the vehicle components.

In short, mechanical failures in vehicles may be a more significant problem than the available data suggests.

With this in mind, here are three mechanical failures that caused car accidents and injuries to drivers in cases investigated and solved by Miami car accident and product liability attorney Sean M. Cleary:

Failure #1: Defective Ignition Switch

Many drivers are completely oblivious to the dangers until it is too late, as was the case for Miami resident Alex M. Alex was making a flower delivery and the last thing he remembers was he entered an intersection, and the light was yellow. The car crashed, and as a result, Alex suffered a brain aneurysm and a hernia recurrence.

Subsequently, Alex found out that his car was one of the General Motors models having faulty ignition switches.

When the ignition on a defective GM car fails, the vehicle immediately loses power, and the driver then loses power steering and braking ability, significantly increasing the chances for a car accident. Most concerning is the fact that the vehicle’s airbags are also disabled and if an accident does occur, the risk of serious injury to the driver and any passengers increases greatly.

Failure #2: Unintended Acceleration

Orio L.’s wife was slowing down to park when her car accelerated and crashed into the house. Typically, when engineers examine the vehicles involved in these types of crashes, they find nothing that could account for what the driver had reported. So, the main defense in sudden acceleration cases has been the inability of the car accident victims to duplicate the incident. In this case, also, the car dealership insisted that the driver’s pedal misapplication caused the sudden acceleration.

Auto manufacturers admit that only two mechanisms can cause a vehicle to accelerate; the driver’s foot on the accelerator and the cruise control. Sean M. Cleary researched and investigated the case, ran tests at the car dealership, and took the time to explain the situation and guide his clients until the case was successfully resolved.

The wide array of instances involving sudden and inadvertent acceleration constitutes compelling evidence that the phenomenon exists.

Failure #3: Exploding Airbag

Dorothy G. rear-ended the car in front of her while doing 10-15 mph, so the accident shouldn’t have been a major one. However, the airbag in her car came out and exploded, detaching itself from the steering wheel. Dorothy suffered burns on her arms and a permanent hearing impairment as a result of the accident.

One of the most significant forms of protection that motor vehicles have is the airbag. Unfortunately, there have been accidents where airbags have done more harm than good for passengers as airbag malfunctions can result in serious bodily harm.

As vehicle safety and control systems rely heavily on electronic components, it’s more and more likely that these electronics can malfunction and place the driver and passengers in dangerous and life-threatening situations.

If a company creates a defective product which injures someone, the company can be held liable for the damages. The area of law that deals with defective products is called products liability.

“When an auto accident occurs, it’s important to examine every aspect of the case, even when another driver is clearly at fault,” said car accident and products liability attorney Sean M. Cleary. “It’s often the case that someone suffers serious injuries from a malfunctioning component in his or her own vehicle. Like any manufactured machine with thousands of parts and components, sometimes auto parts are inherently defective, poorly designed, or manufactured improperly.”