Sports utility vehicles (SUV’s) are among the most popular vehicles due to their functional benefits as a family vehicle, but they also have design defects that compromise the level of protection they offer motorists. SUV vehicles are notorious for their high incidence of rollover accidents. Attributes of SUV’s that increase their risk of rollover accidents include their weight, size and high center of gravity.
These contributing factors are also examples of design flaws and defects that may place the safety of others at risk of a serious Kansas auto accident. The manufacturer of the automobile, the manufacturer of its parts, and other parties potentially may be liable in the event of an automobile collision caused by such defects.
Product liability law involves a defect in the design, manufacturing or marketing of a product that results in injury or wrongful death of an individual in a product defect related accident. Consumers purchase automobiles with a good faith expectation that they are reasonably safe and free from defects that may cause a car crash or more serious injury in a collision. Most consumers never consider the possibility that their vehicle has a product defect when they purchase it. However, most product defects are not apparent at the time a vehicle is purchased but manifest themselves only under certain driving conditions or over prolonged use of the vehicle. Manufacturers of automobiles and of defective parts can be held responsible for the resulting injuries if the defect of the automobile proximately causes an auto accident resulting in injuries or wrongful death.
There are several types of defects that may be associated with an automobile collision including design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. A design defect, such as the design flaw in sports utility vehicles that tend to contribute to SUV rollovers due to a combination of weight, size, and speed, is a defect that can be determined by the design plans, such as the engineering plans used to develop and assemble the vehicle.
The Ford Pinto provides the classical example of a design defect in a motor vehicle. These vehicles had a design defect which caused the rupture of fuel systems in Ford Pinto’s that resulted in fuel tank explosions when the vehicles were involved in rear-end accidents. Pintos were already on the assembly-line during the rear-end crash tests that revealed this very serious defect.
The automaker continued the manufacture and distribution of automobiles because they determined that it was cheaper to pay the lawsuits for those that were seriously injured or killed than to re-tool and correct the manufacturing defect. This lawsuit became the classic case for imposing punitive damages on a product manufacturer that knowingly allows an unsafe product to enter the market and treats serious injury or wrongful death to buyers as a cost of doing business.
The next type of product defect that can cause severe injury to consumers involves defects in the manufacture process while assembling the vehicle. Vehicles may exhibit a manufacturing defect with or without a design defect and may result in strict liability for damage on the manufacturers or the assemblers of the automobile. Manufacturing defects can result in brake or tire failure, poor handling that causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle and suspension system failures. Any time an automobile part fails, the driver is at risk of potential accidents from losing control of the vehicle, compromising the driver’s safety.
Design, manufacturing, or assembly defects place users at risk of a dangerous collision in motor vehicles including SUV’s especially when there were no warning provided to consumers of any risk associated with the vehicle. Other types of defects includes seat-belt malfunctions, failure of door latches, defects associated with airbags, and other types of design and manufacturing defects.
Failing to warn consumers of potential hazards and dangers of an automobile can also leave companies subject to a potential product liability claim. One particular method of warning involves a product recall that provides notice to car dealers and consumers regarding potential hazards of vehicles.
Defective motor vehicles can cause devastating accidents that result in serious injuries ranging from broken or fractured arms, legs, or hips to permanent disability or paralysis. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective vehicle or car part which caused an accident or caused more serious injuries, a Kansas City accident lawyer from our law firm can review your case free of charge and will provide an honest assessment of your chance of receiving compensation.
Call us today for your free initial consultation at 1-800-734- 3771. Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law, P.C, provides personal injury representation in eastern Kansas and western Missouri, including the communities of Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Merriam, Mission, Roeland Park, Westwood, Fairway, Prairie Village, Lawrence, Topeka, Gardner, Kansas City, Grandview, Harrisonville, Belton, Pleasant Hill, Clinton, Lees Summit, Raytown, Peculiar, Lawrence, Strasburg, Freeman, and Garden City.