In 1966, the federal government enacted the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Since then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there have been recalls on more than 390 million motor vehicles due to safety-related defects in Georgia and across the country.
An auto defect may be a simple fix, or it can be a major problem that leads to a devastating accident. In either case, consumers should know what to do to rectify the issue and recover compensation when applicable.
Identifying a defect
In general, a defect with a vehicle is anything that is not working as it should. For example, an air conditioning unit that does not function properly could be defective. While this type of issue is understandably a concern, it is not an imminent threat.
Safety-related defects, on the other hand, are significant problems that compromise the driver’s well-being or the vehicle’s overall safety. Types of safety-related defects include the following:
- Sticking or breaking accelerator controls
- Faulty wiring systems
- Air bags that do not deploy or deploy when they should not
- A sudden break in steering components that lead to the loss of control of a vehicle
Anytime a consumer believes something is amiss with his or her vehicle, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Reporting the issue
Under Georgia Lemon Law, a manufacturer is liable for the repair of any defect on a newly purchased car within 24 months or 24,000 miles. However, even cars that have passed those milestones may still be eligible for a manufacturer repair when the defect is safety related. Consumers with defective vehicles should contact the manufacturer, who may be responsible for fixing the issue and compensating victims.
In addition to notifying the manufacturer, consumers should contact the NHTSA, which keeps a database of all safety defect reports. If enough complaints are filed, the NHTSA may launch an investigation and issue a recall on the vehicle.
If a defect in a vehicle leads to an accident, there are several parties that may be held responsible for damages. For example, the manufacturer of the vehicle, a parts manufacturer and even the dealership could be held accountable, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
In Georgia, consumers have two years from the date that the injury was or should have been discovered to file a products liability lawsuit. There is also a 10-year statute of repose that starts with the date that the product was purchased or used.
In a strict liability case, which many defective auto parts claims are in Georgia, the plaintiff does not have to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent. Instead, the plaintiff must prove simply that the car or part was defective and caused the damages.