Your Charleston Defective Car Part Attorney
If you have been injured or suffered other kinds of damages because of a defective car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, ATV, or other motor vehicle part, you may have a product liability claim.
Common Product Liability Claims for Motor Vehicles
Claims may be based on defects in:
- The body and frame
- Brakes and braking system
- Cooling and temperature control system
- Electrical system
- Engine assembly
- Exhaust system
- Fuel system
- Lubrication system
- Passenger compartment
- Steering and suspension systems
- Transmission and drivetrain, and other parts and accessories.
Types of Product Liability Claims
There are typically two types of product liability claims involving motor vehicles:
- Defectively manufactured vehicles or vehicle parts. This type of claim involves vehicles or vehicle parts that have been improperly manufactured in some way. This may be the result of an error at the manufacturing facility where the vehicle or part was made, or a problem that occurs during shipping or at the dealership or supply.
- Vehicles with an unreasonably dangerous design. This category of claims involves vehicles or parts that, although properly manufactured, have an unreasonably dangerous design that results in injury or other damages. Sometimes these cases involve vehicles or parts that have been on the market for some time before it is discovered that they are dangerous.
Product liability actions are often quite complex, and establishing legal fault often requires the assistance and testimony of experts. Additionally, every state has its own laws and specific statutes that will affect a product liability action. Accordingly, it is important to consult an experienced attorney if you or a loved one suffers injury caused by a potentially defective product.
Car Accidents and Injuries
Anytime you’re involved in a car accident – even a fender bender – you’re naturally upset. If you’re injured, the stress and expense are compounded. If your accident was caused by a defective car part or an unreasonably dangerous car design, things become even more troubling. When you get behind the wheel of your car, you take your driving responsibilities very seriously, and you expect the car manufacturer (or car part manufacturer) of the vehicle that you’ve purchased to take at least as much responsibility. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
The Motor Vehicle Chain of Distribution
Every car goes through an elaborate process that includes many different independent agents before hitting the showroom floor. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by a defective motor vehicle or motor vehicle part, it’s important that you understand the chain of distribution – the path taken from manufacture to purchase – that your faulty car or car part processed through on its way to your driveway. This information can help you discern exactly where liability for your claim rightfully lies. Some claims include every participant that was involved in the vehicle’s chain of distribution. There are several participants on any car’s chain of distribution, and each category can offer more than just one defendant:
- Car Manufacturer
Your car’s manufacturer is almost certainly a large corporation that has the means to adequately compensate you for the injury you’ve incurred at their hand, but they also have the means to retain an expensive legal team to doggedly defend themselves (they may even have a cracker jack in-house team that does nothing but dissuade would-be litigants like you).
- Parts Manufacturer
If your case includes a defective car part – the tires or the battery, for instance – the parts manufacturer (if separate from the car manufacturer) should be included in your claim. This is true unless you bought the parts separately, such as when you purchase new tires or replace a dead battery, in which case the car manufacturer would not be included in the chain of distribution and probably won’t share liability.
- Car Dealership or Parts Supply Shop
Whoever sold you the defective vehicle or the defective car part may be found liable for your damages.
- Middleman or Shipper
Any company in the chain of distribution might be found responsible (or sharing in responsibility) for the damages that you suffer from a defective car or car part, and this includes the shipper or other such middleman.
- Used-Car Dealership
Even if you purchased your car used, in some cases, the dealer whom you purchased it from may be found liable. This is an area of the law that is evolving, so it’s important to take a careful look if your claim involves a used-car dealership.
What if the Defective Car is Not Yours?
If a defective car caused you damage or injury but the car doesn’t belong to you, your product liability case may remain viable. If, for example, you were driving a defective vehicle that you’d borrowed or if you were injured by another driver who was driving a defective automobile, your claim could still be valid and it should include every element of the chain of distribution that effectively applies.
Product Liability or Traffic Accident?
Claims can become confusing, and there’s naturally a lot at stake if you’ve been injured in an accident. But is it a product liability claim or is it a traffic accident claim? The two are not mutually exclusive and every element of your accident should be carefully explored before deciding how to proceed with your claim or claims. If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident in which either you or another driver was operating a defective motor vehicle, you may have both a product liability claim against the car manufacturer (and/or other elements in the chain of distribution) and a negligent driving claim against the other driver (if that driver can be shown to have contributed to the accident).
Legal Theories of Liability
There are several legal theories of liability that are commonly used in defective motor vehicle claims:
- Breach of express warranties refers to the liability that arises when the defective car or car part came with a written warranty or guarantee, which means that the defect could amount to a violation or breach of that guarantee.
- Breach of implied warranties refers to the liability that arises when the state’s imposed minimum standards for cars or car parts are invoked (regardless of whether there is an express warranty), which means that the defect could be in breach of this implied warranty.
- Strict products liabilities refer to the liability that arises when a state has adopted strict product liability laws (like South Carolina has), which means that the plaintiff is relieved of the burden of having to prove that the manufacturer or supplier of the defective car or car part wasn’t sufficiently cautious in its actions. This is especially advantageous when bringing a defective motor vehicle claim.
Your Defective Car or Car Part Case
Bringing a successful defective motor vehicle or motor vehicle part case can be extremely complex and highly technical. In the end, you must be able to prove not only that your vehicle or part was defective but also that the defect caused your damages. It’s probably not something you should take on yourself. The representatives on the chain of distribution are sure to bring their best legal game, and your case is too important to leave to chance or to the discretion of those who share liability for your damages. You’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, and you deserve to be compensated accordingly.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto crash and you suspect a defective car part may have been the cause, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. For these reasons and more it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney.
The Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. has decades of experience helping people like you exact their rightful compensation. We care about you and your defective product liability case, and we’re here to help – please give us a call, (843) 300-7600.