All drivers are aware of the risks that they take when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. They’re aware of the responsibility they may have to assume when an accident unfortunately occurs. After all, no matter the good intentions and best efforts of the drivers involved these accidents are being caused by human operators, right?
While the vast majority of vehicle accidents are caused by human error, other factors such as road conditions and weather can set the stage for unavoidable accidents. And then there is the condition of the vehicles themselves. If a driver knowingly is operating a unsafe vehicle and a accident occurs as a result, than that driver may be found to be at fault. If a vehicle is being driven without the driver practicing due diligence to keep it in safe operating shape and a accident occurs, than that driver may be found at fault.
But what if a driver is operating a vehicle with unknown defects and an accident occurs? Who is responsible under such circumstances for resulting injury and property damage? A good case in point is a massive vehicle recall announced last week by car manufacturing giant Fiat Chrysler. The company is recalling 1.7 million Dodge pickup trucks, many of them in its popular Ram series for two defects. The recalls affect trucks produced between 2012-2014. The first concerns side airbags in these trucks which can inflate without warning. While no crashes have as yet been reported, two injuries have. The cause is believed to be faulty wiring within the steering system that triggers airbag inflation. When this happens drivers may or may not be warned by a vehicle light before inflation occurs. The second defect also concerns the steering systems of these trucks. Faulty welding within the system has led to deterioration of steering components resulting in reduced steering control. And the company recently reported a third pickup truck recall largely affecting its 2013-2014 pickup trucks. Upon collision, side curtain airbags don’t meet Federal regulations sufficiently to protect rear occupants from injury in a vehicle rollover. No injuries as a result of this defect have been reported at this time.
By notifying vehicle owners of recalls and fixing these vehicles for free, aren’t car manufacturers absolved of further responsibility? After all, isn’t it the consumer’s responsibility to respond quickly to recalls? To take a recalled vehicle off of the road until it can be repaired correctly? And what if you aren’t the owner of a defective vehicle but have been injured by one? Should you demand compensation from the driver’s insurance company, or from the company that truly caused the accident? And how could you even prove who was at fault in such an accident or know how to file such a claim?
Fortunately, law firms specializing in personal injury have years of experience in handling defective product cases. The recent Fiat Chrysler recall case is the latest in a long line of major manufacturer vehicle recalls. In all of these cases the manufacturers were slow to investigate complaints and to issue recalls. These manufacturers also have battalions of legal teams at their disposal to make suit filing difficult for laypeople and create delays. This is why in cases involving defective products attorney representation is highly suggested.
A lawyer in such a case can research reports and records and establish an accident trail involving specific products. He or she can then file claims for clients in court to get them compensation for lost wages, medical treatment, and property damage. Such lawyers can also file appeals and keep clients updated about court progress, freeing them to concentrate on recovery.
Sometimes accident victims must bear some responsibility for their circumstances. But when these accidents occur after the innocent use of a “safe” product they are certainly entitled to seek compensation for their suffering and the right legal representation can help them achieve this.