Our Winston-Salem car accident lawyers understand that a vehicle crash caused by a defectively manufactured part can involve a lot of discovery. In North Carolina, Chapter 99B of the General Statutes controls much of the procedure in these types of cases.
Automotive News is reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting an investigation into a potentially deadly manufacturing defect on more than 500,000 Ford sedans.
The cars in question are Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Mercury Marauder vehicles manufactured between 2004 and 2007. According to reports made to NHTSA, a heat shield can become corroded over time by road salt that eventually causes the part to become dislodged. When it becomes dislodged from the underside of the vehicle, it can obstruct the steering shaft, causing the steering wheel to lock while the car is in motion. On one occasion, this locked steering wheel caused a car to roll over. On that occasion, the driver experienced back and neck injuries after the vehicle rolled.
Other less serious reports are that the steering became extremely tight, and excessive physical force was required to the turn the wheel. This should not happen under normal conditions in modern cars, which all feature power steering.
When someone is injured in a car accident caused at least in part by a defective product, the lawsuit is a type of negligence action known as a products liability case.
One of the main issues in a case where a car accident was caused by a defective part is proving whether the auto manufacturer knew or should have known that there was a defective part and that that defective part could reasonably be expected to cause an accident.
On some occasions, car manufacturers have used a dangerous or defective part knowingly and made a decision that it was worth the risk, because fixing it would cost more money than paying out a settlement in a future personal injury case. Sometimes, the manufacturer learns of potential problems through complaints from customers and reports from service centers. In this type of case, the case may turn on what the automobile manufacture did when learning of the complaints. If they do not conduct an adequate investigation or correct the problem, they may be liable for any injuries caused, and their knowing disregard for the safety of customers may lead to punitive damages. In some cases, the car manufacturer may have no idea there was a defective part, but they should have known based upon their status as a major car manufacturer.
As your car accident lawyer can explain, the discovery process will be very important in a defective part case. The discovery process occurs before trial and involves each party to a lawsuit requesting documents from each other to use as evidence. The most important type of documents in a case involving a defective car part are internal memos or emails that show that the company was aware of the problem before an accident occurred.
Contact the Winston-Salem car accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
NHTSA investigates 500,000 Ford Motor sedans for potential steering problems, July 11, 2014, Automotive News
More Blog Entries:
Car Defects a Hidden Threat in Carolina Traffic Collisions, December 16, 2013, Winston-Salem Car Accident Lawyers Blog