What to do When your Defective Car Causes an Accident

A big misconception about car accidents is that the human drivers at the scene are the only ones who can potentially be responsible. It’s relatively common that the root cause of an accident can be a defect caused at the factory, which can be depending on the circumstances, go undetected in the proceedings.

You probably remember seeing stories on the news a few years back about faulty Toyota models leaving drivers unable to stop. One case resulted in a $3 million settlement due to faulty braking and electronic systems in the vehicle. This incident sparked a massive product recall.

You probably remember seeing stories on the news a few years back about faulty Toyota models leaving drivers unable to stop. One case resulted in a $3 million settlement due to faulty braking and electronic systems in the vehicle. This incident sparked a massive product recall.

More than 37,000 people die in the United States every year from automobile accidents. In addition to fatalities, these incidents cause all sorts of debilitating injuries, drastic medical/insurance costs, and lead to astounding amounts of emotional stress. Following an accident, those involved need to consider the possibility that a safety defect might have contributed to the events.

As a lemon law lawyer in San Diego – one of the biggest cities in the country – we see many car accidents that stem from shoddy manufacturing. In these situations, there are several major factors to take into consideration. Let’s dive in.

1.Get the Defect Investigated

In the eyes of lemon law, the nature of the defect is a critical component in whether or not you have a legitimate claim. In order to be deemed a lemon, the vehicle should have a defect which substantially impairs its use, value, or safety.

In the case of an accident, these types of defects could typically revolve around issues related to the:

  • Steering
  • Braking
  • Acceleration
  • Airbag deployment (failure or unexpected)
  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Computer system
  • Electrical components
  • Fuel system

That being said, the defect does not necessarily need to affect the safety to qualify as a lemon.

But, if you are involved in an accident and believe it was the result of a manufacturing defect, it may be best to take the common recommendation from your insurance provider and DO NOT ADMIT FAULT at the scene. You need to get in contact with a lemon law lawyer to start the process of getting the vehicle investigated to pinpoint the root cause of the issue.

If the accident proves to be a result of a manufacturing defect, your insurance company may cover the repair costs, then seek to recoup those expenses from the manufacturer.

2. Assess the Lemon Eligibility

In addition to the nature of the defect, there are many other crucial factors that come into play when defining a lemon. The timeframe is perhaps the most clear-cut. While these figures vary from state-to-state, the substantial defect must present itself before a certain deadline after purchasing the vehicle, or before a specified number of miles accrue on the odometer.

In California, the defect it is a common misconception that a new vehicle must be apparent within the first 18 months of the purchase date, or before 18,000 miles accrue on the odometer to be ruled a lemon. As long as the vehicle is covered by a warranty, or the defect first presented within the warranty, the vehicle may qualify as a lemon.

Keep in mind, regardless of whether the vehicle is a qualified lemon or not, the manufacturer may still be required to compensate you if a defective part caused an accident – in the form of medical bills, lost wages, etc. However, you may not be strictly eligible for benefits under lemon law if the vehicle exceeded the timeframe or mileage limitations.

Another factor to take in to consideration is whether the vehicle is new or used. In most states, lemon law only applies to new vehicles. Only a handful of states may have laws protecting used cars; California being one of them.

Used vehicles under lemon law certainly come with a unique set of specifications.

First and foremost, if you bought the vehicle “as is” or from a private dealer, you are probably out of luck in the eyes of lemon law. If you bought the vehicle from a dealership, it might still be covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty, or maybe even the dealer’s warranty. Moreover, the dealer warranty might also mean the vehicle is covered under an “implied warranty of merchantability,” meaning that the vehicle meets the requirements to provide safe transportation within a certain timeframe. In this case, you might be eligible for benefits following an accident.

3. When Do You Seek Out an Attorney?

In the case of a car accident, in which you strongly believe was a result of shoddy manufacturing, seeking out an attorney should be one of your first orders of business. As you could imagine, it’s very possible that these incidents might involve several lawyers: personal injury, traffic law, lemon law, etc.

If you are confident that the vehicle that caused your accident is a lemon, there are a handful of things you should get in order to make the process easier – both for you and the attorney.

Be sure you have every single piece of relevant documentation – the title, accident report, mileage at the time of the accident, etc. The fact that your defective vehicle was in an accident will likely complicate the matter, unfortunately. In most cases, extensive research and investigation will be needed in order to prove that the accident was caused by a manufacturer defect.

With this in mind, seeking out a good lemon law attorney needs to be among your top priorities (assuming you are not severely injured). The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get benefits under lemon law.

Wrapping Up

There is never a “good” time to get in a car accident. Most cases end up being much more complex than they seem at first. In the scenario that a manufacturer defect is responsible for the accident, holding the automaker responsible is a process that requires highly qualified legal counsel.

If you have recently been in an accident and are convinced it was directly caused from faulty manufacturing, please get in contact with us as soon as possible! We are here to help guide you through the long procedure of getting the justice you deserve.

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