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An Overview of Motor Vehicle Defects Law

All manufacturers of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other motorized vehicles are legally required to sell safe products to consumers. If a design or manufacturing defect makes a vehicle unsafe, there are lemon laws in place to protect the purchaser.

For example, when a vehicle is determined to have a defect, it is typically placed under a recall. In some cases, a car manufacturer will notice a defect on its own and offer free repairs to consumers. In other cases, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must persuade or order a car maker to issue a recall. If a troublesome new vehicle is not recalled, it may be eligible for replacement under federal lemon laws. Lemon laws can also cover used vehicles, but generally only if an express written warranty has been given. To make a claim under these laws, it is up to the owner to document the number of times a vehicle has been taken to the service center without the defect being fixed. Unfortunately, some serious car defects go unnoticed until they cause an accident or an injury. In these cases, a consumer may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.

What Types of Defects Commonly Lead to Recalls or Lawsuits?

Typically, a motor vehicle defect must present a safety issue in order to be subject to a recall or lawsuit. Examples of such defects include:

  • Air bags that deploy at unintended times or with too much force
  • Steering components that suddenly break
  • Faulty brake pedals
  • Windshield wipers that fail to correctly operate
  • Defective wiring that can result in vehicle fires
  • Fuel system leaks that can cause fires
  • Faulty accelerator controls
  • Defective seat belts
  • Ignition switch defects that cause a sudden engine shutdown

What Legal Remedies Can Motor Vehicle Defects Attorneys Provide?

If a consumer purchased a vehicle with a serious defect and the dealership refuses to fix the problem, an attorney may be able to use federal or state lemon laws to help. If the buyer was injured due to a motor vehicle defect, an attorney could file a lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking compensation for the losses that were incurred. If the defect is present in a large number of vehicles, harmed buyers may be able to participate in a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer. Possible damages awarded in such cases include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property loss. In some cases, a court may also award punitive damages.

Why Should People Hire a Motor Vehicle Defect Attorney?

Motor vehicle defect laws are a complex mix of federal and state statutes. An attorney could review a particular case and pursue one or more legal options that are available.

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