Vehicle or Road Defects Can Cause Your Auto Accident in New York

While data shows that human error is the most common cause of road accidents in New York, there may often be other significant reasons for the crash. Cars are complex machines made up of several parts that perform a particular function. If there is a problem with the design of the automobile parts or some part fails to function as intended, it can lead to disastrous consequences.

A vehicle that is defective may lead to an accident triggered by a problem in the brakes, tires, or steering columns. In some cases, defects in the road may also be responsible for causing road accidents. In case you have been injured in a road accident caused by vehicle or road defects, you are probably wondering about who can be held liable for your loss. Talk to a trusted auto accident attorney in New York to know more about what the law says regarding such accidents and injuries.

Common Causes for Vehicle Malfunction Related Accidents

All vehicles suffer wear and tear and tend to break down over time. This is the reason why one must perform regular maintenance to keep the vehicle in good condition. Failure to maintain your car will cause it to develop defects that may result in a malfunction when you are on the road. If an accident is traced to the poor condition of a car, the owner of the car may be held legally responsible for the accident.

Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that close to 6.8 percent of road crashes are caused due to vehicular malfunction. Some of the common defects that may lead to car accidents in New York include:

  • Failure of the brakes
  • Balding of the tires
  • Malfunction of the steering system
  • Problems with suspension
  • Engine failure
  • Transmission issues
  • Failure of brake lights or headlights
  • Airbag deployment failure
  • Faulty windshield strength
  • Problems in automatic transmission
  • Leaks from the radiator or other parts

Who is Responsible for Car Accidents Due to Vehicle Defects?

Automobile companies are quite likely to manufacture vehicles with serious design or manufacturing errors. The recall of one million cars by General Motors after a fault in the ignition switch caused the death of 42 drivers is just one out of many examples. However, it is an unfortunate fact that these auto manufacturers do not take decisive action unless there are serious injuries reported by consumers.

Under New York’s strict liability doctrine, the following three conditions are considered in order to prove auto accident liability:

  • Does the vehicle or any of its vital components exhibit defects that may be termed ‘unreasonably dangerous’?
  • Were injuries caused due to this defect despite the vehicle being driven in the intended, reasonable manner?
  • Was the vehicle in its original form without any substantial changes introduced by the owner that could have changed its performance?

It is a manufacturer’s legal duty to sell only those products that are safe for use. An automobile company that sells vehicles with defective design or malfunctioning parts that caused an accident is therefore liable for negligence as per the concept of product liability.

The NHTSA requires auto companies to notify it regarding any defective vehicle that may potentially cause an injury. This notification has to be followed by an immediate recall of the concerned vehicles. A failure on the company’s part in taking such preemptive action can lead to serious accidents and victims injured in them can bring a lawsuit against the auto manufacturer.

How to Proceed in a Car Accident Caused by a Vehicle Defect?

Like in any other type of accident, a product liability claim will require you to prove that the car manufacturing company was negligent in its:

  • Design of the car parts
  • Assembly of the car parts
  • Lack of warning about any hazard or defect that was likely

When someone tries to pursue a claim for a defective vehicle, the manufacturers will try all they can to avoid being blamed. They may try to garner evidence proving that the accident was due to negligence of the driver and not due to a vehicle defect.

Another ploy they may use is to say that the vehicle was not used as intended or that the vehicle had been modified by the driver, resulting in the malfunction. Disproving statements along these lines is not an easy task and this is why having an experienced New York City defective vehicle auto accident attorney on your side is critical to your case.

If you suspect that your accident was caused due to a vehicle defect, it is imperative to preserve the car and its parts in the same condition and arrange for it to be inspected by an expert. A competent automobile accident lawyer can help you ensure that even if the vehicle is to be signed over to the insurance company, the vital evidence (such as the “black box” in newer cars) is collected and preserved before the vehicle is transferred.

What is the Role of Road Design in Car Accidents in New York?

Road-related factors are responsible for more than 16 percent of traffic accidents. Every road must conform to state and federal standards that are designed to ensure the safety of vehicles. Road geometry is especially important when it comes to uphill slopes and curves.

Roads also require signs and signals to make it easy for the drivers to know what to expect along the route. According to the NHTSA, missing traffic signs are responsible for close to 10,000 vehicle accidents every year. The accuracy of speed limits specified on the road signs is also critical. If the signs indicate a speed limit that is beyond safe limits, it is very likely to result in a crash.

The condition of the roads is another vital factor that may cause accidents. Whether it is a small crack in the asphalt or a huge pothole, every road defect is a risk factor. Any vehicle driving on a faulty or poorly maintained road is likely to be affected, but motorcycle riders and bicyclists are perhaps the most vulnerable because the nature of their vehicles does not provide for any physical protection.

Other road-related problems that can cause accidents include:

  • Lack of guardrails
  • Excessive or insufficient banking of roads
  • Too narrow shoulders on the road
  • Problems with road drainage that cause water pooling on the road
  • Presence of plants that intrude into the driving lanes
  • Absence of lane markers
  • Sharp drop-offs on highways
  • Poorly designed entry and exit ramps

Who Can You Sue for Auto Accidents Caused by Road Defects?

If your auto accident in New York was caused due to a poorly designed or maintained roadway, you can sue the governmental agency that is responsible for its upkeep. Winning the case depends on how well you are able to prove that the road design was unsafe and could have been improved upon. This is not as easy as it sounds and the government will employ legal experts who can use creative jargon, rules, exceptions, and legal precedents to prove that they were not at fault for the accident.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for the upkeep of roads in NYC. If your car accident was caused due to a defect in the road’s design, construction or maintenance, the DOT cannot be held legally responsible for the injuries you sustained unless there has been prior notification of the defect which the DOT failed to repair despite the passage of a reasonable amount of time.

It is not impossible to pursue a case against either a vehicle manufacturer or a government agency responsible for the design and maintenance of roads. However, suing such parties and winning is certainly a complex and challenging task that is very difficult for anyone without legal expertise and that is why having an experienced and focused lawyer on your side is important.

Accomplished Auto Accident Attorneys in New York are Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a defective vehicle, you can pursue a lawsuit against the company that manufactured, distributed, or supplied the vehicle. If your accident was caused due to poor road conditions, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the concerned governmental agency.

While it is not impossible to win a lawsuit against large corporations, business entities and governmental agencies, it is certainly a difficult task for an ordinary citizen to handle on their own.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, we have several years of experience in helping clients who have been injured in accidents caused by vehicle and road defects. Our team of automobile accident attorneys has the resources, network, and competence to build a strong case for you. We can handle all the legal paperwork and make sure evidence is procured, preserved, and presented in a manner that is designed to help you win the compensation you deserve.

Call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free review of your case


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