If you’re injured in a traffic collision because a vehicle in the accident – or a vehicle part – was defective, what are your rights and options? These accidents happen frequently, so keep reading.

The cause of most traffic accidents is negligent or careless driving. In the typical traffic crash, fault and liability will be assigned to one or both motorists.

But what if a collision happens and neither motorist was careless or negligent? When no one was negligent, crash investigators start looking at the vehicles and vehicle parts for defects.

CAN A LAWYER HELP?

In Louisiana, where can traffic injury victims turn – if they know or suspect that a defective vehicle or vehicle part is the reason they’ve been injured?

Discuss your case at once with an experienced, reliable New Orleans product liability attorney. It won’t cost you anything to learn how the law applies in your own circumstances.

If you have grounds to pursue a product liability claim, your lawyer will provide sound legal advice and aggressive representation.

ARE DEFECTIVE PARTS AND VEHICLES A GROWING CONCERN?

If you’ve followed the news, you know that the vehicle recall figures are disturbing.

Over the last ten years, more than twelve million cars, trucks, and SUVs made by eleven different auto manufacturers were recalled around the world – for airbag defects.

GM recalled more than 26 million vehicles – for ignition switch defects – here in the United States.

Injured Louisiana traffic crash victims are entitled to damages when their injuries are caused by a vehicle defect or a part defect in a vehicle involved in the collision.

WHAT’S THE DEFINITION OF STRICT LIABILITY?

Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of vehicles and their parts are legally obligated to provide safe and reliable products that won’t injure someone who handles them properly.

Product liability claims that arise from defective vehicles and defective parts fall under a legal doctrine of “strict liability.”

Strict liability holds automakers, parts manufacturers, distributors, and retailers automatically accountable if a consumer is injured by a defective vehicle or vehicle part.

Strict liability is good news for consumers.

It means that if you are injured using a consumer item as intended, liability is automatic, and no specific instance of carelessness has to be shown for you to prevail with a product liability claim.

IF A PRODUCT INJURES YOU, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO PROVE?

If you are injured by a defective auto part or vehicle, and you become the “plaintiff” in a product liability case, you’ll have to prove these three facts for your claim to prevail:

1. The vehicle or the part had a defect that was “unreasonably dangerous.”

2. While the vehicle was in use and being used as intended, injury was caused by the defect.

3. The vehicle or part had not changed “substantially” in a way that impacted its operation.

HOW DO COMPANIES DEFEND AGAINST PRODUCT LIABILITY CHARGES?

Vehicle and part manufacturers who are sued for product liability don’t just roll over. They fight back, so you should expect that your product liability claim will be vigorously disputed.

In a product liability case concerning a defective vehicle or part, a defendant may claim that a plaintiff knew about the defect, failed to seek repairs, and nevertheless continued driving.

Or a defendant might claim that the vehicle was old, deteriorating, and could no longer be expected to perform reliably.

If you’re injured because of a vehicle or part defect, you must have representation from an injury lawyer with substantial experience – an advocate who knows how to win against manufacturers and automakers.

WHAT ARE THE THREE TYPES OF VEHICLE AND VEHICLE PART DEFECTS?

Three distinct kinds of vehicle defects and part defects could cause injuries and trigger a product liability claim:

1. A marketing defect: Usually this is an advertising or labeling mistake: inadequate instructions, insufficient safety warnings, or other inaccurate information.

2. A manufacturing defect: A mistake or flaw while the vehicle or part is being manufactured will often create a defect.

3. A design defect: A defectively designed part or vehicle is dangerous from the start. Such a defect will be a part of every unit of the vehicle or part.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO IF A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT HAPPENS?

Traffic accidents caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts can be legally complex. When an accident happens, no lawyer will be on the scene to advise you, so this is what you’ll have to do.

At any vehicle accident site, if anyone is hurt, call for medical help first. Then summon the police. When the police accident report becomes available, you’ll need to obtain a copy.

And until you speak personally to an attorney, you’ll have to gather evidence on your own. Take (or have someone take) photos of the accident site and the damage to the vehicles.

Try to obtain names and contact details of any eyewitnesses to the collision. Your attorney may need to reach out to them later for testimony or statements.

Hard-to-detect and latent injuries are common in traffic accidents. Have a doctor examine you in the first 24 hours after any crash – even if you feel perfectly healthy.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED?

After you’ve been examined by a medical professional, if you’ve been injured in an accident, put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced New Orleans product liability attorney.

Your attorney will review the details of your accident and injury, determine who was at fault, and advise you regarding the best way to move forward.

If you owned the defective vehicle or vehicle part, try to collect all of the repair and sales receipts and any other relevant documents – such as the warranty.

With the evidence that proves your claim and the help of a good personal injury lawyer, you should be able to win the compensation you need – and that you are entitled to by law.

HOW ARE PRODUCT LIABILITY VICTIMS COMPENSATED?

In Louisiana, an injured victim of negligence is entitled to complete reimbursement for all medical costs, for lost wages and lost earning capacity, and for personal pain and suffering.

In some states, defendants can receive punitive damages intended to punish manufacturers and deter the production and sale of defective vehicles and parts.

Punitive damages usually are not awarded in Louisiana product liability cases, but the right personal injury lawyer will fight for the maximum available compensation on a victim’s behalf.

When a traffic collision occurs, and neither motorist was driving negligently, a full investigation will be needed.

If you are injured in such an accident, and your health and future are at risk, you must obtain trustworthy legal help immediately. It’s your health, your future, and your right.