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Defective Vehicle Parts: Accidents Waiting to Happen

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on January 16, 2018

A car crash can be caused by many things: reckless driving, poor weather conditions, or defective parts on a vehicle.

The scary part is, you can’t control the third one.

If your truck’s tires come apart or brakes fail, you’re looking at a loss of vehicle control. Defective wipers and defrosters can make it impossible to see the road and traffic around your car, leading to a dangerous, possibly deadly, crash.

Winter weather tends to exacerbate any defects in automotive products or parts, so be on the lookout for defective…

  • Tires: Drivers rely on their tires more than they realize. Your tires keep you connected to the road and not only ensure traction and control, but also let you come to a stop. Defective tires can come apart or come off of a vehicle while driving, both of which can result in a serious accident. Other components near the tire, such as brake pads, also impact how well you can drive in wintery conditions. When these parts fail, snow and ice can wrest control from a driver and leave the vehicle helpless.
  • Windshield wipers: We tend to forget windshield wipers when we don’t need them (though we Seattleites probably remember them more than most!). Poor weather greatly reduces visibility for drivers, and water, slush, and snow can amass on the windshield. This is why you should check your wipers before a storm and replace them as often as needed. Defective wipers, however, can come apart or simply fail to make contact with your windshield and clear it off. This can leave you unable to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles while driving.
  • Window defrosters: Everyone in Washington needs functioning defrosters. If your defrosters stop working, or fail to work as well as they should, it can leave you with poor visibility, especially when the weather is cold. Poor visibility means you cannot see and react to vehicles around you. Combine that with wet or icy roads, and you have a perfect recipe for a serious collision.

Now, Who Could Be Liable?

You bet someone should be held responsible if a product fails and people get hurt. But it’s not easy to tackle a big corporation, so we really recommend speaking to a Seattle car accident attorney first. He or she can find out where liability lies, whether with:

  • The manufacturer. After a crash involving defective vehicle parts, the first place you should look for liability is the manufacturer. After all, it made the part. Proving manufacturer liability, however, is no easy task, since it requires that the company acted in a negligent way. This means it needed to know about the defect, recognize the danger the defect presented, and fail to act in a reasonable way to prevent it. Simply making a product with a defect does not automatically mean the company was negligent or liable for damage it caused.
  • The dealership. You can also look at the dealership that sold you the defective vehicle to see if it is in some way liable for what happened. Once again, you need to show that the dealership was negligent. For example, if there was a recall notice from the manufacturer, which the dealership ignored to sell the vehicle anyway, that would be an act of negligence. It would make the dealership potentially liable for crashes caused by the defective vehicle or part.
  • The mechanic. A mechanic who knowingly installs or ignores a defective part of a vehicle can also be liable for what happens afterward. Proving this is not easy, since you have to show that the mechanic knew about the defect and did not act reasonably to handle it. We expect the mechanics who work on our vehicles to be the last line of defense between defective parts and our safety on the road. If they fail to act properly to keep us safe, they may be held liable for injuries and vehicle damage that happen as a result of their actions (or inactions).

As always, if your accident was caused by another driver (say a commercial truck driver who didn’t account for weather conditions), that driver and his company may be responsible for paying your medical bill and damages, defective parts or not. For a free consultation with a Seattle accident attorney, call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at (888) 228-3860.

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