Car Accidents Caused by Defective Parts

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

Car accidents are frequently caused by driver error, but in some cases, they may be caused by defective parts. If your vehicle or another driver’s vehicle has a defective part, you may be able to receive compensation from the manufacturer or other liable party. 

Guidelines for Automakers and Manufacturers

Automobile manufacturers have a responsibility to make products that are safe for users. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), established in 1970, began testing and rating vehicles for frontal impact and protection in 1978. By 2016, they would add the following tests to their repertoire: 

  • Side crash protection
  • Resistance to rollover crashes

They also began to encourage automakers to include certain safety features, like crash avoidance technologies, backup cameras, and emergency braking. The NHTSA also requires that all new vehicles have 5-star safety rating information on their windows. 

These standards not only help people make educated decisions about the vehicles they’re purchasing, but they also hold automakers to a higher standard. By requiring these window labels, automakers must make products that fulfill these guidelines. 

Unfortunately, while products are tested, and vehicles are tested again as a whole, sometimes things can slip through the cracks. Defective parts made be made by the manufacturer of the vehicle themselves or by a third-party manufacturer. 

The Responsibility of Manufacturers 

Just like when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, the manufacturers have a responsibility to keep drivers safe. In their case, they have a duty to produce products that are safe and won’t cause an accident with regular usage. In the case that they notice a defect, they also are responsible for issuing a recall. 

Common Types of Defective Parts

Every part of the vehicle plays an important role in ensuring that the vehicle works and is safe to drive for both the driver and others on the road. When a part malfunctions, it can cause harm to the driver and other road users, such as other drivers or vulnerable road users. Here are the most common types of defective parts seen in lawsuits. 


If your vehicle has faulty brakes, it’s immediately a danger to you and everyone on the road. Without good, working brakes, you won’t be able to come to a stop safely. If your brakes go out while at a high speed, you could easily lose control of the vehicle or crash into another party. 

According to the NHTSA, 22% of accidents caused by vehicle failure were caused by defective brakes. Types of brake defects include: 

  • Missing components 
  • Cracks in the brake disc
  • Installed improperly 


Not being able to control your vehicle can be a terrifying experience. When the steering goes out, it’s easy to feel completely out of control. Common steering wheel defects include:

  • Jammed wheel locks
  • Pump malfunctions
  • Leaking fluids 


Defective airbags can cause two dangerous situations. They may deploy prematurely or explode. When an airbag deploys prematurely, it can cause more harm than good, obscuring one’s vision and causing unnecessary injury. 

If an airbag explodes, it can eject shrapnel and severely harm the driver or passenger, worsening an accident. Airbags are recalled frequently, so it’s important to have them replaced if a recall has been issued for your vehicle. 

Fuel Tanks

Fuel tanks may be positioned in the wrong way, making it easier for a fire or explosion to occur as a result of a fuel leak. Other defects include improper or poor welding that can lead to a break in the tank. 

Who’s Liable for a Defective Part?

In most cases, a manufacturer will be liable for the defective part and the damages it caused. However, in some cases, other parties could be liable. For example, if a car dealership knowingly sold you a vehicle with a maintenance issue (but failed to document it), they could be liable. 

If a mechanic failed to fix your vehicle properly or caused some sort of damage to your vehicle or part, they could be liable. 

In some cases, a defective part only accounts for partial liability. There’s often still some human negligence that takes place. For example, if someone crashes into your vehicle head-on and your airbag explodes, both the at-fault driver and the manufacturer of the airbag could be liable for your injuries. 

Receiving Compensation for an Accident Caused by a Defective Part

By filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer or other liable party, you can recover your damages in the form of compensation. You can receive compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Permanent disfigurement and scarring
  • Funeral and burial expenses (in wrongful death cases) 

The amount of compensation that you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and the damages that you incurred as a result. 

Depending on who’s liable for your injuries, you may file multiple lawsuits. In the example we cited earlier, where the accident was caused by both a driver and an airbag defect, that person would file a lawsuit against both parties. If a defective product were the sole cause of your accident, you would only file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Contact Osborne & Francis if You Were in an Accident Caused by a Defective Part

If you were involved in an accident caused or worsened by a defective part, it’s time to get the compensation that you deserve. To learn more about Osborne & Francis, schedule a free case evaluation online or at (561) 293-2600

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