Auto Defect Accidents

This page is for informational purposes only. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal typically does not handle automobile defect cases except in rare circumstances. If you are looking for information on automobile recalls please visit the NHTSA Recalls page. If the auto defect or recall has caused an accident or led to serious injuries we may be able to help you. 

Car accidents are most often caused by two things: 1) another driver’s negligence, or 2) poor road conditions. When these are not to blame other factors must be identified. Car accidents caused by auto defects can be linked to a wide variety of things like manufacturing defects, faulty engineering, or improper assembly. These types of accidents are always unforeseen and entirely unpredictable by nature. Auto defects can cause every type of car accident on the road – from minor collisions to accidents involving fatalities – and because of their unpredictable ways, can lead to serious injuries. If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to a vehicle malfunction, contact a Denver car accident lawyer from our firm today for a free case evaluation.

Colorado Auto Defect Accident Resources:

Common Vehicle Malfunctions and Auto Defects

Vehicles in the USA are required to meet certain safety standards before they’re permitted on the roads. Car companies do everything they can to ensure they’re producing the safest vehicles they can, but defects happen and they may not reveal themselves until the car is on the road. In fact, there are many vehicular parts that can malfunction resulting in an accident including:

  • Airbags
  • Transmission
  • Child Safety Seats
  • Frame Defects
  • Seat Belts
  • Ignition
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Improperly Installed Aftermarket Items
  • Cruise Control
  • Axle Defects

Car companies who are aware of defects initiate a recall to address the flaws in their designs. These recalls happen because someone experienced the defect and decided to take a stand against the manufacturer for a vehicular malfunction accident, or in legal terms, an Auto Product Liability Case.

Auto Defects & Product Liability in Colorado

Cars are complex works of machinery. Each automobile is a delicate work of engineering with multiple parts dependent on one another’s proper function. Even some slight malfunctions can severely impact the car’s proper functioning. On top of this, many defects may stem from one problem. These defects carry catastrophic consequences and can frequently cause serious injury, and may even be life-threatening in an accident.

Many times, injuries caused from these automobile defects may be pursued in the court of law. A common method for taking legal action against auto manufacturers is a product liability case. These types of cases hold companies responsible for distributing and creating products that are defective, or that have errors in their manufacturing process. Unlike a majority of personal injury cases, which are pursued on the general principle of negligent acts by a person or entity, product liability cases must be sought out on certain terms. These include:

  • Defects In Manufacturing: A defect in manufacturing occurs in the stage when the automobile is being made, and can typically be attributed to factory error. This is common when certain parts of the vehicle are improperly installed, or perhaps parts don’t function correctly due to the way the car was built.
  • Defects In Design: Claims regarding defects in design act on the idea that the car was not ever fit to be used in the first place by its very design. Examples of this may include airbags that were manufactured properly, but do not function properly anyway.
  • Failure To Warn: These cases are not typically common for cars, due to the nature of the product, however, if an auto manufacturer fails to instruct drivers that using functions of the car may lead to accident or injury, a case may be pursued.
  • Breach Of Warranty: Cars are required to come with a warranty for their usage. This is especially true of new cars purchased at a dealership. If a dealer or manufacturer cannot fulfill the warranty, there may be cause for legal action.

Proving Negligence in an Auto Defect Claim

Many personal injury cases deal with the theory of negligence. Negligence means “[t]he failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1133 (9th ed. 2009). For example, if a driver fails to stop and hits another car because he was not paying attention to the road because he was texting, then he could likely be held liable for negligence. Similarly, if a company creates a product that is defective in some manner and that product injures a person who was using the product as intended, then that company can be held liable for the injuries it products caused.

In Colorado, in order to prove negligence the plaintiff “must establish (1) the existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) breach of that duty, (3) which proximately caused (4) damage to the plaintiff.” Largo v. Crespin, 727 P.2d 1098, 1102 (Colo. 1986)Largo v. Crespin, 727 P.2d 1098, 1102 (Colo. 1986). If a plaintiff can prove all these elements by a preponderance of the evidence than that plaintiff may be able to recover damages from the person or entity who was negligent.

Strict Liability in Colorado

Strict liability is a form of liability that “does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm, but that is based on the breach of an absolute duty to make something safe.” Black’s Law Dictionary 998 (9th ed. 2009). Colorado adopted strict liability in 1975, in the case of Hiigel v. General Motors, 190 Colo. 57 (Colo. 1975). The court, in that case, stated a “[m]anufacturer’s liability in strict tort does not rest upon the normal negligence rules of foreseeability, but upon the newer concept of enterprise liability for casting a defective product into the stream of commerce. Thus strict tort liability shifts the focus from the conduct of the manufacturer to the nature of the product.” Id. Under the theory of strict liability, a plaintiff does not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to recover damages. Instead, if a manufacturer put a defective product on the market, that manufacturer can be held liable for any injuries the product caused regardless of whether or not the manufacturer was negligent in making that product.

Breach of Warranty in Denver Auto Defect Claims

A third theory that product manufacturers can be held liable under is the theory of “breach of warranty. There are two types of warranties, express warranties, and implied warranties. Express warranties are warranties “created by the overt words or actions of the seller.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1725 (9th ed. 2009). Thus if a seller promises a consumer that a product will do something and that product fails to do what was promised, the consumer may have a claim for breach of warranty.

An implied warranty is a little different. It is “an obligation imposed by the law when there has been no representation or promise; especially, a warranty arising by operation of law because of the circumstances of a sale, rather than by the seller’s express promise.” Id. There are two kinds of implied warranties that typically come up in products liability cases, the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.

  • Implied Warranty of Merchantability: This warranty is “a merchant seller’s warranty — implied by law — that the item sold is fit for its ordinary purpose.” Id. at 1726. For example, a person buys a bicycle over the internet and when it is delivered, that person expects the bicycle to support his or her weight. If the bicycle falls apart the second the consumer hops on it, then the seller may have breached the warranty of merchantability.
  • Implied Warrant of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: This warranty is “a warranty — implied by law if the seller has reason to know of the buyer’s special purposes for the item — that the item is suitable for those purposes.” Id. For example, a consumer was in the market for a bicycle and asked the seller what bicycle in the shop was best. The seller recommends the Model X and the consumer then buys it. The bike works well at first but soon experiences problems if its ridden for more than a few miles and can not make it through an entire marathon. That consumer may then have a case of breach of warranty because the seller knew he wanted the bike for a marathon and the product was not made for it.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Victims of auto defect accidents are going to need the help of an experienced Denver personal injury attorney to protect their rights and help them get the full settlement they deserve. Expert testimony identifying the defect and its link to the accident is just one of many unique aspects of these accident claims. Building the case against the car manufacturer takes research into other accident reports that involve the same make and model looking for connections to the defective item. All of this has the additional benefit of potentially saving someone else from experiencing the pain and suffering the defect has caused you.

Having the experience and skill of a qualified lawyer at your side brings more than just “peace of mind”.  It’s the security of knowing absolutely that your legal rights were cared for throughout the process and that your interests weren’t abused by the insurance companies. Call (303) 825-2223 today for a free case consultation.