Vehicles are complex machines, and even with extensive testing, defects can sometimes slip through causing accidents and injuries. If you were injured in an auto accident in Illinois that was caused by a vehicle defect, you may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. This article provides an overview of how to build your Chicago personal injury case and prove the vehicle manufacturer is liable for your damages.
Proving a Defect Existed
The first critical step is demonstrating that a defect did in fact exist in the vehicle that caused or contributed to the accident. Some examples of common vehicle defects that can cause accidents include:
- Faulty airbags that fail to deploy properly in a crash due to defective sensors or inflators
- Defective tires that experience tread separation or blowouts due to weak spots in the rubber or damage during manufacturing
- Faulty seatbelts that fail to properly restrain occupants in a crash due to defective buckles, retractors or anchor connections
- Ignition switch defects that unexpectedly cause vehicles to shut off while driving
- Defective power steering or suspension components that break causing drivers to lose control
- Faulty latch door locks that allow doors to open unexpectedly during driving
Your attorney will likely need to obtain the vehicle or critical components of the vehicle so that specialized automotive defect experts can thoroughly inspect it. The expert will attempt to identify any manufacturing, design or labeling defects that could have contributed to the crash. They can also testify whether the vehicle met federal safety standards.
Reviewing the vehicle’s maintenance logs can help rule out improper maintenance or repairs as a cause. Past recalls, service bulletins, manufacturer communications and consumer complaint data can serve as supplementary evidence that a known defect existed, and the manufacturer was or should have been aware of the problem before the sale of the vehicle.
Demonstrating the Defect Caused Your Accident
The second element you must prove is that the defect directly caused or contributed to the accident. Your attorney can obtain police reports, speak to witnesses, and analyze the physical evidence from the crash to build this connection.
If you were injured by an airbag that failed to deploy, for example, an expert can testify that your injuries would have been less severe if the airbag had worked properly. Or if the accident was caused by tread separation in a tire, an expert can explain how the tire failed and why this failure resulted in the driver losing control.
Establishing the Manufacturer Should Have Known About the Defect
The third aspect your attorney must demonstrate is that the vehicle manufacturer should have known about the defect before the vehicle was sold. Manufacturers have a responsibility to adequately test their products and fix any safety defects discovered.
Your legal team can request internal documents and data from the manufacturer showing what type of testing was done prior to the vehicle being sold to determine if they should have caught the defect. They may also build a timeline showing how many consumer complaints have been submitted over the years about that particular defect.
If there was clear evidence the manufacturer knew or should have known about the dangerous defect but did nothing to fix it or warn consumers, they can be held liable for any injuries that defect causes later on.
Seeking Compensation in Your Lawsuit
In your lawsuit, your lawyer will seek full compensation for all the damages related to the defective vehicle accident. This can include reimbursement for:
- Medical expenses from accident-related injuries
- Lost income due to missing work
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium damages for your spouse
- Punitive damages intended to punish the manufacturer
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side increases your chances of proving liability and recovering maximum compensation in your vehicle defect lawsuit.
Getting Legal Help
The process of investigating a complex vehicle defect, demonstrating exactly how it caused the crash, and proving manufacturer liability can be complex. An experienced personal injury attorney will know the type of evidence needed and work with appropriate experts to build a compelling case on your behalf.
If you or a loved one were harmed in an auto accident caused by a vehicle defect in Illinois, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with a qualified personal injury lawyer from Monge & Associates to discuss your case. One of our attorneys can analyze the details of what happened and advise you on the best legal options. We have offices in 32 locations in 19 states including Illinois, Virginia, and Tennessee. You can call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.