When you purchase a new car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle, you expect that the vehicle has been safety tested and is roadworthy. Tragically, that is not always true.
Are you and your loved ones at risk? What are your rights if you are injured in a traffic crash in this state because a vehicle or a vehicle part was defective or flawed? How can a Fresno car accident lawyer help?
HOW COMMON ARE VEHICLE RECALLS?
More than thirty million vehicles were recalled in the United States in 2017 for safety reasons, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Far too frequently, however, a number of accidents – and injuries – have to happen before a specific make and model of vehicle is recalled for a defective part or a design flaw.
In such cases, injury victims here in California may be able to file a product liability claim against the vehicle or part manufacturer and seek compensation for their medical bills and other accident-related damages.
WHEN MAY A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM BE PURSUED?
A product liability claim may be filed when anyone is injured because of a flaw or defect in a particular product.
However, if that product’s manufacturer refuses to settle with the injury victim, and the case goes to trial, an injury victim will have to prove not only that a defect existed in the product but also that the defect was a direct cause of the victim’s personal injury or injuries.
WHAT ELSE WILL A PRODUCT LIABILITY VICTIM HAVE TO PROVE?
In a product liability case arising from a traffic collision, an injury victim will need to prove at least one of these three claims:
1. The vehicle or part was flawed by one or more design defects.
2. The vehicle or part was flawed by one or more manufacturing defects.
3. Insufficient warnings or instructions were provided by the manufacturer and/or retailer.
Most of the product liability cases arising from traffic accidents involve alleged design defects.
As you probably know, most traffic accidents happen because at least one of the drivers was in some way negligent: speeding, driving recklessly, driving under the influence, or driving while distracted.
HOW CAN A PRODUCT LIABILITY ATTORNEY HELP?
A product liability claim filed against an automaker or an auto part manufacturer is handled a bit differently than a personal injury claim that’s made against a negligent motorist.
Injury victims in California who believe that a defective auto or auto part may have been the reason why they are injured should discuss their legal rights and options as quickly as possible after an accident with an experienced product liability lawyer.
A product liability attorney will review the details of your case and suggest the best way for you to move forward – which might be a product liability lawsuit. Your lawyer will explain how the legal process works in these cases and what kind of evidence must be gathered and presented.
IF YOU’RE IN A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT, WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE?
Of course, if an accident happens and you are injured, no attorney will be on the scene to give you advice, so you will need to take these measures:
1. If anyone involved in the accident appears to be injured, summon medical help at once.
2. Even if you do not believe that you’ve been hurt, you will need to obtain – for a variety of reasons – a medical examination within twenty-four hours of any traffic crash that you are involved in.
3. Summon the police to the scene. Ask how you will be able to obtain a hard copy of the final accident report.
4. Exchange complete contact and insurance information with the other drivers.
5. Take plenty of photos. If there are eyewitnesses, try to get their contact information.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’RE INJURED IN A TRAFFIC CRASH?
You will need to report to your auto insurance company that you’ve been involved in a crash, but do not provide any details, admit to anything, sign anything, or make any formal statement to an insurance company until you have consulted a qualified product liability lawyer.
Keep and make copies of every document that is pertinent; medical bills and reports, the police accident report, and all of the paperwork and receipts for your vehicle, vehicle parts, and vehicle repairs.
This is why, when you purchase a vehicle or a vehicle part or have repair work done, it is so important to keep all of that paperwork, to keep it secure, and to make and keep copies.
HOW ARE MOST PRODUCT LIABILITY CASES RESOLVED IN CALIFORNIA?
In California, most product liability claims are settled outside of the courtroom before any trial can commence. Most corporations and companies want to avoid the bad publicity that can come out of a contentious courtroom trial.
Your attorney should have extensive experience successfully negotiating settlements in product liability cases. Your attorney should also have substantial trial experience.
If an acceptable settlement is not offered in private negotiations, you must be represented by a reputable Fresno product liability lawyer who will fight aggressively on your behalf for the compensation that you need and the justice you deserve.
WHICH INJURY VICTIMS REQUIRE THE MOST HELP?
Sadly, in many of the product liability cases that arise from traffic collisions, the injuries that victims have sustained are catastrophic: traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal cord injuries, and injuries that require amputation.
In these cases, injury victims will need the maximum amount of compensation that’s available, because they will have medical expenses for years to come. Catastrophic injuries usually mean multiple surgeries, lengthy hospital stays, and years of medical treatment and rehabilitation.
In California, these injury victims will also need an attorney who knows what it takes to win that maximum compensation.
HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES SAFE?
It is important for every motorist to keep in mind that when a vehicle or vehicle part is flawed and dangerous, but no recall has been issued, you and the ones you love may be at risk.
Have your vehicle routinely and completely maintained, and keep up with automotive product recalls. Current vehicle and vehicle part recalls may be found at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website (https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls).
If you are injured by anyone else’s negligence on the road – whether it’s an automaker or a distracted driver – get the legal help that you need, and get it as quickly as you can. That is your right.