Not all automobile accidents involve driver negligence or even drivers at all. Sometimes vehicle defects are to blame. If something goes wrong in your car, you could be in an accident involving serious injury or even death. Here is what you should know if you believe a defect may be responsible for your automobile accident. Recognizing what could be a vehicle defect is the first step. A defect may be the result of a design flaw or a faulty component. A classic example of a design flaw is seen in sports utility vehicle rollovers due to high centers of gravity. Another example is a gas tank which easily catches fire after an accident.
Design flaws make it less safe to operate the vehicle or make accidents much more severe compared with other cars. This means more serious injuries or even death. Faulty components are seen in many defect cases as well. Cars are immensely complicated machines, with many parts made by different companies. Sometimes the components used to assemble cars are not reliable or safe and can fail during normal vehicle operation. Examples of faulty components are airbags that fail to deploy upon impact or tire blowouts caused by design flaws.
Georgia product liability laws require manufacturers to make their vehicles “crashworthy.” This refers to the ability of a vehicle to withstand an accident while still protecting its occupants. Cars that are not crashworthy make the accident unnecessarily worse by failing to utilize safety features. No vehicle can ever be made 100% safe. However, manufacturers have a duty to take reasonable steps to make their products as safe as possible. If a vehicle is designed or built in a way that renders it “uncrashworthy,” the manufacturer could be held liable.
Georgia has what is known as a statute of repose that may affect your ability to file a claim. The statute concerns product defect claims, including those involving automobiles. It forbids claims “after 10 years from the date of the first sale for use or consumption” of the product. Through court decisions, the law has evolved over the years. Under the current interpretation of the statute, victims have 10 years after the vehicle is first purchased to file suit. The statute of limitations (not to be confused with the statute of repose) for product liability cases is two years.
Victims have two years from the date the injury was or should have been, discovered to file suit. This is different than the statute of repose, which imposes the 10-year limit regardless of whether an injury occurred. Statutes of repose and statutes of limitation are complicated and should be discussed with a Georgia car accident attorney. In any event, you should act quickly to pursue compensation after an accident due to a vehicle defect. The best course of action is to try to prevent an accident before one even happens. If you identify a defect in your car, especially one that impairs its safe operation, contact the manufacturer. Georgia’s Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to repair any defect for a car under 24,000 miles or 24 months.
You should also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency which tracks safety defects. Enough complaints to the manufacturer or NHTSA may result in a vehicle recall. We’ve all heard about vehicle recalls, and many of them touch on safety. If a recall is announced for your vehicle, you should act on it immediately.
When to Contact an Atlanta, GA Car Accident Attorney
After a defect-related accident, several parties could be to blame. This includes the vehicle manufacturer, parts manufacturer, dealership, repair shop, and potentially others. As you can imagine, these parties may start pointing fingers at each other – or even at you. It is therefore critical that evidence pertaining to the accident be collected and preserved. This doesn’t just mean obtaining (when possible) pictures and video involving the accident. It means preserving the vehicle and its parts just as they were at the time of the accident. Repairs or replacements could destroy evidence and severely damage your injury case. For this reason, and due to the time constraints of any lawsuit, you should act immediately to secure your rights. If you or a loved one has been in an accident and a vehicle defect is suspected, call Schneider Hammers. Our skilled litigators will carefully investigate your claim and seek the compensation you deserve.