Importance of Preserving Vehicle after Crash to Determine Auto Defects

Auto defects can cause problems with performance, leading to additional costs and inconvenience. But when these defects are safety-related, it may cause an accident. Preserving evidence will be critical in this type of case to establish manufacturer liability or liability of other parties responsible for the defect.

Detecting an Auto Defect through Physical Evidence

Collecting evidence is one of the most important parts of any case. Accident victims and their attorneys can utilize numerous types of evidence in a product liability claim, though the vehicle itself is essential. In order to preserve this kind of physical evidence, claimants should abstain from performing any repairs or alterations.

The vehicle should remain in the exact state it was in after the crash. Therefore if towing it to a garage or lot, the owner should find out where the tow truck driver is taking it to ensure no repairs are made.

One way to establish whether or not a defect was the cause of a crash is by having an automotive expert look at it. The expert should provide a detailed report about the state of the vehicle and potential cause of the accident. The expert may even testify in the claim or lawsuit regarding his/her findings and expert opinion.

Types of Auto Defects That Could Cause an Accident

Certain safety defects are more likely to contribute to or cause a crash. This can happen when parts in a vehicle malfunction or are improperly designed.

For instance, if something is wrong with the steering components it could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Another type of defect that could cause the driver to lose control is tires that experience premature tread separation. Stopping a vehicle could be an issue when brakes fail or the accelerator sticks.

Some defects don’t necessarily cause accidents but lead to higher risk of severe or fatal injuries. An example would be fuel system leakage, which could cause the vehicle to catch on fire in a crash. Seatbelts or airbags that don’t work properly can increase risk of severe injury, too.

Important Elements in a Product Liability Claim

To build a strong case, there are some important elements that claimants must establish. The first (and oftentimes the most difficult part of the process) is establishing that a part or the vehicle itself was the cause of a crash or resulted in injuries that would have not have otherwise occurred.

As mentioned, an automotive expert would be helpful in establishing this element of the claim. His/her testimony could prove invaluable. But there may be other ways to show a defect existed. For instance if there was a recall issued on the part, this could support the claim that the auto was defective.

Even statements from witnesses might establish a defect was the cause. For instance, a passenger also injured in the vehicle may see the driver attempting to stop the car by slamming on the brakes to no avail.

The second element is determining who is liable for a defective vehicle. Oftentimes it is the automotive manufacturer. But liability could also include whoever was responsible for the design of the defective part.

Claimants may name a dealership as a liable party in a claim if it knew of the defect (or reasonably should have known), yet failed to correct it and still sold the vehicle. Shops that sell secondhand defective parts could also be liable. The final element is connecting the defect to the resulting injuries. 

Once this is established, a determination is made as to the types of damages that are recoverable: 

  • medical bills;
  • lost income;
  • pain and suffering;
  • disability; and
  • mental anguish.

Contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates if there is evidence to suggest that an auto defect was the cause or contributing factor to a crash. We can determine the validity of a case and assist claimants who are filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent party or parties.

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