Defective Car Parts – Liability for Fatal Crashes and Serious Injuries in Illinois and Indiana


Defective Car Parts – Liability for Fatal Crashes and Serious Injuries in Illinois and Indiana

Was Your Crash Caused by a Defective Product?

In our last post, we shared the warnings from both the Ford Motor Company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that certain 2006 Ford Rangers are TOO DANGEROUS TO DRIVE.

Both Ford and NHTSA have issued news releases to owners of 2006 Ford Rangers NOT TO DRIVE THEM. Ford will not only provide rental cars for these owners, but Ford will repair the defect (Takata air bag) for free with repair teams going to the owner’s home to fix the pickup.

Recalls and Defective Parts Cause Crashes

Why is Ford going to all this trouble?  As we discussed earlier, people have died in accidents caused by these Takata air bags failing while the owner was driving their Ford Ranger.  The danger of the Takata airbag rupturing while the pickup is being driven is considered “…an immediate risk to safety.

However, it’s not just Takata air bags that are dangerous and defective car parts endangering people driving on the roads of Indiana and Illinois (and the rest of the country).  There are other serious motor vehicle recalls right now that are also dangerous. 

GM Ignition Defects: Ignition Switch Recall

For instance, there is the massive GM Ignition Recall.  These defects are as concerning as the massive Takata air bag recalls.  See:

So Many Defects: Millions of Vehicles Recalled in 2017 for Dangerous Flaws

In 2017 alone, millions and millions of motor vehicles were recalled by their manufacturers for a variety of serious defects and flaws that can cause fatal accidents.  Among them are the following:

Recall of 1,500,000 vehicles built by Hyundai and Kia before 2013  

Millions of drivers of car models Kia Optima, Kia Sorento, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Sonata, and Hyandai Santa Fe were alerted in the past year that their vehicles had a serious defect and were being recalled by the car maker.  It seems that these cars and SUVs have defective engines (engine name, Theta II).  They can stall.

These are older models, all built before 2013.  The entire engine will be replaced by the manufacturer.

For details, read “Engines May Need to Be Replaced in 1.2 Million Hyundai, Kia Cars,” written by Ryan Beene and published at Bloomberg.com on April 7, 2017.

Recall of 1,150,000 Honda Accords

Another huge car maker recall within the past twelve months is the recall of 1.15 Million Honda Accords (model years 2013-2016) because they have been sold with a defective battery sensor. The defect can cause the car to catch on fire as the car is being driven. Honda warns that the defect must be repaired because “your safety may be at risk.”

Recall of 1,300,000 Ford Pickups (2015-2017 Model Years)

In 2017, Ford issued a recall for 1.3 million vehicles because of defective door latches.  Specifically, the Side Door Latches in 1,300,000 F-150 Pickup Trucks (model years 2015-17) and 2017 Super Duty Pickup Trucks.  The defect allows the door to open while the truck is being driven.  See the Ford Recall announcement here.

The lesson here:  a great number of motor vehicles sold in the United States today have recalls and known defects associated with them.  And recalls are simply notifications that there is a problem.  They do not mean that the vehicles are being fixed and that the roads are safer.  They don’t get dangerous vehicles OFF THE ROAD.  See, e.g., Recalls Don’t Solve the Problem of Defective Product Injuries.

Accidents and Crashes Caused by Defects and Recalled Car Parts

When there is a serious motor vehicle accident here in Indiana or Illinois where people are severely injured or killed in the crash, investigations are undertaken both by law enforcement as well as insurance carriers and those representing the accident victims in their civil claims.  There will be a determination of fault: what happened?  How did the wreck occur?

And in these situations, the answer may be that no driver erred or made a mistake that constitutes negligence under the laws of Indiana or Illinois.  Instead, the cause of the crash will be attributed to the flaw or defect in the defective motor vehicle.  The reason for the severe accident or fatal crash will be a malfunctioning part in one of the vehicles.

We’ve given some examples here and in earlier posts.  Deadly car crashes and life-altering accidents have happened in recent years due to airbags, ignitions, as well as:

  • Sudden acceleration while the driver is operating the vehicle
  • Defective tires that blow out
  • Malfunctioning brake systems

Liability in Recall Accidents and Fatal Crashes Caused by Defective Cars, Trucks, Minivans, SUVs

In these cases, where there is not a negligent driver but a flawed part in a motor vehicle, the law provides for justice via “defective product” or “product liability” claims.

The victims of the flaw or recall may seek damages from various defendants who can be held liable, including not only the car manufacturer whose logo is on the vehicle itself, but also the designer of that defective component (like Takata for the air bags) and others involved in the design, manufacture, or assembly of the defective product.

Deadly Defects Not Subject to Recall: Recalls Don’t Cover All Dangers

Here’s an additional danger and concern:  there are dangerous defects in motor vehicles today that are not the subject of recall.  The dangers are known to the manufacturer and to NHTSA, but they haven’t made it to recall status.

Recalls are not a complete list of all the defects and flaws that can cause serious accidents and fatal crashes on the roads of Indiana and Illinois.

Ford Fusion Stalls But No Recall

An example:  the popular Ford Fusion is known to have a problem with its computer (PCM) that causes the car to lose power as it is being driven.  It stalls and drivers are sharing experiences in various forums and in complaints filed with NHTSA that they have lost power while driving their Fusion at both low and high speeds.

Claims for Deadly Defects in Cars, Trucks, SUVs, and Minivans

Today, it’s no exaggeration to report that anyone driving in Indiana and Illinois is in danger of being the victim of a dangerous defect in a motor vehicle because there are simply so very many serious flaws and defects in products sold by car makers today.

The flaw or defect can fail at any time.  The driver will not be negligent, but both that driver (and his passengers) as well as those third parties sharing the roads with him will be in danger of a serious accident or fatal crash caused by that defective product.  It may be subject to recall.  It may not. 

It’s important that we monitor both complaints and recalls for our motor vehicles to make sure we are as safe as possible from defects in our own cars and trucks.  It’s also imperative that we all know that we face unknown dangers and risks on the roads today because of defective products in motor vehicles of all makes and models.  Let’s be careful out there!

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