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Can I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit if my Car Malfunctions?

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car malfunction

Clients in Atlanta, Georgia, often ask if they are entitled to personal injury claims if their car malfunctions.

The answer is yes – if your car is defective and you have suffered injuries as a result of the malfunction, you should look into filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Types of Car Malfunctions

Car malfunctions fall under a body of law called defective products or product liability. There are two general categories of vehicle defects:

  1. Design defect. There is a defect in how a product in the vehicle or the vehicle itself is designed.
  2. Manufacturing defect. Something went wrong when the product or vehicle was manufactured.

Responsible Parties for Car Defects

Design defects and manufacturing defects can be extremely dangerous and can be caused by:

  1. The auto manufacturer. The manufacturer is the company (such as Honda, GM, Toyota) that made your car.
  2. A third party. Third parties refer to companies that manufacture a specific part of the car, such as airbags.
  3. A dealership. Dealerships sell cars to consumers and are responsible for making changes to a vehicle, usually used cars.

Defective Products in Automobiles

Design and manufacturing defects can manifest in many ways:

  • Improper functioning safety equipment like seatbelts
  • Defective airbags
  • Brakes that do not work
  • SUV and Jeep rollovers
  • Roof crush
  • Electrical system fires
  • Unintended acceleration
  • Tire (tread gets separated from steel belts)
  • Faulty ignitions
  • Engine fires
  • Mechanical failures

Recall Notices

For widespread and known problems, auto manufacturers issue recall notices. Owners are instructed to take their cars to a dealership that inspects the possible car malfunctions. If necessary, the dealership will fix the issue through repair, replacement, or installing an additional part.

Always comply with your vehicle’s recall notices for your own safety.

Well-known and Widespread Automobile Malfunctions

There are numerous cases of widespread defective cars due to faulty design and manufacture. Two well-known cases involve defective products:

  • Toyota Automatic Acceleration. Starting in 2009, drivers of Toyota automobiles reported that their cars accelerated on their own while driving. As a result, drivers could not slow down the vehicle or drive safely. In one case, a car accelerated to 125 miles per hour before crashing and killing all four occupants of the car. Initially, Toyota claimed that drivers were at fault because they pressed the gas instead of the brake pedal. Then, Toyota identified that floor mats caused the gas pedal to be depressed and issued a recall for the mats. Even after millions of cars had floor mats replaced, the problem continued. Reports later showed the Toyota knew that there was a problem other than the floor mats. The unintended acceleration was caused by a flawed design of the gas pedal, where plastic in the pedal caused the pedal to become stuck. In addition to Toyota paying settlements from lawsuits, the U.S. Justice Department fined Toyota more than one billion dollars.
  • Takata Airbag Safety Recall. Automobiles made by nineteen auto manufacturers (including BMW, Toyota, Honda, and Audi) have airbags manufactured by a company called Takata. In cars with Takata airbags, most manufactured between 2002 and 2015, airbags have exploded or improperly inflated due to exposure to heat and humidity. As of January 2020, Takata airbags have caused 17 deaths and 200 injuries. As a result, Takata issued recalls for 62 million airbags from more than 42 million vehicles in the United States to remedy this problem.

There Must be Car Damages to Recover

Most personal injury cases, even those with defective products, involve the theory of negligence. Negligence is the structure that establishes fault and allows a victim to recover. To establish automotive manufacturer’s fault, the victim of a defective automobile needs to show the following four elements:

  1. Duty. A car manufacturer has an obligation to make cars that are safe and free of defects.
  2. Breach of that Duty. An automotive manufacturer breached that duty by designing a defective product or manufacturing a defective product, such as faulty airbags or gas pedals.
  3. Causation. There must be a connection between the defective product and the accident for a successful case. In other words, the defective car parts or defective manufacture must have caused or contributed to the accident. The accident can involve other vehicles, or it can be a single-vehicle crash. For example, the causation element is met if a car automatically accelerates and hits another vehicle or a tree.
  4. Damages. With few exceptions, there must be damages in order to recover. Even if the elements of duty, breach of that duty, and causation are met, that is not enough to recover from the auto manufacturer. People often inquire about taking action against an auto manufacturer when they have suffered no damages. A victim of an automobile defect must show that they suffered damages, meaning there was an accident or something that happened that caused them to incur:
    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Car repair costs

How the Manufacturer Might Respond: Manufacturer Defense

Auto manufacturers and parts manufacturers scrutinize car malfunction cases carefully. Admitting that their products are defective does not set a helpful precedent for other cars with similar damage. Therefore, auto and parts manufacturers sometimes do not readily accept liability and payout on a claim. Defenses that auto manufacturers use include:

  • The vehicle’s owner knew of the problem (i.e., the alleged defect) and continued to drive without getting it fixed
  • The owner did not take proper care of the car
  • The driver was not driving properly

An experienced attorney with car products liability cases can effectively respond to these defenses.

Contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm if You Have Been Injured or Your Car Has Been Damaged Because of a Car Malfunction

The injury and accident attorney team at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm has experience in evaluating defective car cases. Our experienced lawyers can help you determine the value of your damages and collect a fair settlement. Remember that we do not get paid unless you recover. Contact us today.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!

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    Help Negotiating with Insurance Carriers

    To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.

    Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

    The best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our legal professionals have the expertise to evaluate your case and determine a strong legal strategy so that you can obtain the greatest amount of compensation possible under the law. We will enlist investigators, assistants, and other specialists to collect accident reports, speak with witnesses to your accident, and put together a plan. While you focus on your physical recovery, we will remain committed to fighting for the compensation that you deserve.

    Georgia's Personal Injury & Accident Firm

    Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.

    What to Expect From Your Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?

    During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process. Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today. We understand that some accident victims might have already obtained the assistance of an attorney but may be dissatisfied with the services provided. We are standing by and prepared to help you change legal representation, regardless of where you are in the process.

    Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

    If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of personal injury accident, you should not hesitate to speak with the experienced attorneys at CEO Lawyer personal injury law firm. Call, email, or fill out our online contact form today so that we can begin helping you pursue the compensation you deserve.