It is important to understand the difference between motor vehicle defects that are considered safety-related and those that are not considered safety-related. A safety defect is one that poses risk to both motor vehicle safety and can exists in a group of vehicles, such as ones that are of the same manufacturer.
According to the United States Code for Motor Vehicles, motor vehicle safety is “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”
Related to motor vehicle safety are safety-related defects, which include “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.”
To help make defects that are safety-related clearer, the experienced attorneys of Owen Patterson & Owen have examples of defects both safety-related and not safety-related.
Safety-Related Defect Examples:
- Vehicle steering components that break or malfunction causing loss of control
- Fuel system problems that occur in crash damage, such as leakage of fuel resulting in vehicle fires
- Sticky or breaking accelerator controls
- Unexpected failure of seats during normal use
- Air bags that deploy when they are not intended to
- Problems with wiring systems that cause lighting loss or fire
NOT Safety-Related Defect Examples:
- Radios that do not work properly
- Air conditioners that do not work properly
- Wear of equipment that is inspected and replaced periodically (break pads, shock absorbers, batteries, exhaust systems)
- Rust on the body panel of a vehicle
- Paint blemishes on the vehicle
If you think your vehicle may have a safety defect, it is important to report it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). If the NHTSA receives a number of similar reports of a particular safety-related defect, an investigation is warranted. It is also possible to quickly search for recalls based on your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at any time online.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an auto-accident due to a safety-related defect, please contact us or call 800-676-5295. We will be happy to assist you with your questions and help you to determine your options.