Car Defect Lawyers in Houston, TX

Since the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966, more than 390 million cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles have been recalled because of safety defects. This doesn’t include the 46 million tires, 66 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment, and 42 million child safety seats that have also been recalled due to defects. Car manufacturers are required by law to design and engineer cars that meet a minimum safety standard. Despite this requirement, poor car design and functionality are the top causes of car accidents. Automakers are usually faced with two choices after discovering a poorly designed car: recall the car and fix it, or pay off accident-related lawsuits. If you find yourself in an accident due to a defect, a Houston auto defect lawyer wants to help you receive the justice you deserve. Call Reich & Binstock at 713-622-7271 for a free consultation.

What is an Auto Defect?

An auto design defect happens when there is an inherent flaw in a product’s design that makes the car unreasonably dangerous.

In many states, car crash victims have to show that the risk could’ve been reduced or avoided by improved design where:

  • The car manufacturer had the ability to produce it
  • It wouldn’t cost too much to make the product with the modification
  • The car product would still perform the function it was created for

Types of Auto Defects

There are multiple auto defects that can cause serious injuries, including:

  • Airbag defects
  • Defective breaks
  • Tire blowouts
  • Defective seat belts
  • Door latch failures
  • Brake failures
  • Ejection injuries
  • Fuel system fires
  • Motorcycle malfunctions and design defects
  • Occupant restraint system failures
  • Post-collision fires
  • Rollovers
  • Roof crush
  • Structural failures
  • Sudden Unintended Acceleration

One of the most common and most dangerous forms of auto defect is sudden unintended acceleration.

Sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) is the unexpected, uncontrolled car acceleration that’s often accompanied by defective brakes.

Signs of SUA 

You may be the victim of sudden uncontrolled acceleration if you’ve experienced any of the following:

  • You notice random accelerations while driving without touching the gas pedal
  • There is a sudden acceleration from a complete stop without touching the gas pedal
  • You are unable to stop with the brakes
  • There is trouble returning the car to idle if it’s in gear
  • You can’t control the car

SUA can happen at any time, but happens most often when a driver brakes, switches to cruise control, or shifts gears. These changes could disturb the car’s electrical current and trigger a malfunction and cause a sudden acceleration as a result.

Injuries Caused by Uncontrolled Acceleration

Any major or minor injury can arise from SUA. Some of the most common traumatic injuries seen in a courtroom are:

These injuries require long-term rehabilitation and cost mental, emotional, and financial stress to the victims and their families.

Defective seats can cause serious injuries in even minor collisions. Additionally, defective seats can be caused by design flaws, manufacturing errors, and failing to properly test seat safety. There are many types of vehicle seat defects, including:

  • Collapsing seatbacks
  • Forward-thrusting seatbacks
  • Weakly structured seats with faulty adjusters, locks, or supports that can break with or without impact
Defective Seat Design Risks

Defective seats can cause major safety issues, such as:

  • Preventing the driver from properly controlling their car
  • Reducing the effectiveness of seatbelts
  • Potentially crushing passengers
  • Allowing passengers to slam into the dashboard or windshield
  • Trapping passengers in the back seats under deformed and collapsed front seats

If a driver were to get into a crash with defective seats, they (or their passengers) could suffer major injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of limbs, or even wrongful death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 2,000 people suffer from power window-related injuries every year. Most of the people injured in this statistic are children. However, most of these accidents could be prevented if car manufacturers made sure every car had the proper safety mechanisms.

Defective Power Window Injuries

Most defective power window injuries involve hands and can cause bruising, dislocations, or fractures of the fingers, wrists, or hands. In more serious accidents, children can get their heads or bodies trapped in power windows, often causing suffocation. This is because power windows can apply up to 80 pounds of force. Meanwhile, it only takes 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure a baby. Since 1990, over 65 children have been killed by power windows according to data from Kids and Cars. Most of these victims were under three years old. If you or your child are injured due to a defective power window, it’s prudent that you contact a Houston auto defect lawyer.

What is the Most Common Vehicle Defect?

The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety defines an auto defect as “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.”

Generally, a safety defect is a problem in the car or equipment that risks safety and may exist in the same type of car.

Vehicle defects can be divided into two categories: safety related defects and non-safety related defects.

Safety Related Auto Defects

Safety related auto defects include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Faulty steering components that cause a complete or partial loss of control
  • Problems with fuel system components that leak fuel and start fires as a result
  • Faulty accelerator
  • Ignition defects
  • Cracked or broken wheels that result in loss of vehicle control
  • Broken engine cooling fan blades that can cause injury to auto mechanics
  • Seats that fail unexpectedly during normal use
  • Critical car parts that break or fall apart, causing potential loss of vehicle control
  • Wiring system problems that result in a fire or loss of lighting
  • Airbags that deploy when they’re not supposed to
  • Child safety seats that have defective belts and buckles that create a risk for injury

Non-Safety Related Auto Recalls

  • Broken air conditioning
  • Broken radio
  • Ordinary wear and tear of equipment that has to be inspected and replaced periodically
  • Car body rust
  • Paint scratches
  • Excessive oil consumption

When is a Recall Necessary for Auto Defects?

A car recall is necessary when a car or its equipment doesn’t comply with a federal motor vehicle safety standard. Additionally, a car recall is necessary when there is a safety-related defect in the car or its equipment.

Houston Car Defect Injury Claims

For a typical car accident in Houston, a driver involved would file a personal injury claim for negligence.

But. liability for car defect cases revolves around strict liability, which is when a defendant is liable for committing an action.

You can file a strict liability claim based on a car defect, without showing carelessness, if the following conditions exist:

  • The car (or something in the car) had an “unreasonably dangerous” defect that injured you. The defect can be due to the car’s design, the car’s manufacturing, or can happen during the car’s shipment.
  • You were injured by the defect while using the car how it was intended to be used.
  • The car wasn’t substantially changed from the condition it was originally sold in. “Substantially” means in a way that doesn’t affect the car’s performance.

Product Liability Claims for Defective Cars

If you were involved in a car accident due to a defect, you can also file for a Houston product liability claim.

Generally, product liability claims involving cars come in two forms:

  • Car manufacturing defect: this type of claim involves cars or car parts that have been improperly manufactured. This means the defect is due to an error at the manufacturing facility or due to a shipping or supply error.
  • Cars with unreasonably dangerous design: this type of claim involves cars or car parts that, while properly manufactured, have an incredibly dangerous design that has resulted in injuries or other damages.

Auto Defect Claim Defendants

A Houston auto defect lawyer will help you identify all potential defendants in your case. Generally, this includes all participants in the “chain of distribution” of the car or car part.

For auto defect cases, the defendants could include:

  • Car manufacturer
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Car dealership or automotive supply shop
  • Middleman or shipper
  • Used car dealer

Experienced Houston Auto Defect Attorney

If you or your child were severely injured in an accident due to a car defect, we want to make sure you recover the damages you deserve from the car manufacturer. Please call an auto defect lawyer in Houston at 713-622-7271 or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., Reich & Binstock offers free, no-obligation consultations with an auto defect lawyer. We additionally handle all upfront costs of litigation and we only get paid if you receive a recovery on your claim.

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There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.