Dallas Law Firm Blog

The Basics of Vehicle Defect Law

Basics of Vehicle Defect LawMotor defects laws are a consumer protection mechanism that focus on injuries related to defective cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Sometimes manufacturers make mistakes in designing or putting together a vehicle. Because of the inherently dangerous nature of something that can move at high speeds, these mistakes can be costly. This article provides very basics of vehicle defect laws, but talk to your vehicle defect lawyer for more specific information directly related to your particular case.

What is a defect?

A defect basically means that there is something wrong with the car. Any minor flaw is technically a defect, but usually a defect in legal terms means something is wrong with one of the vital functions of the car, especially anything that would affect safety. If there is anything wrong with the brakes, acceleration, steering, seat belts, or air bags, then that is usually what laws and lawyers are referring to when they say “defect.”

What is a recall?

A recall occurs when the manufacturer or vehicle safety administration notices that there is a defect in the vehicle. They issue a recall so that the people who own or drive those vehicles are notified that the vehicle could be dangerous. The manufacturer will usually mail a notice to the vehicle owner, instructing them to get the defect fixed as soon as possible. Usually, the owner is entitled to get the repair free or the manufacturer will provide a replacement free of charge. If you find that this is happening frequently, however, you may be entitled to additional compensation under local or state laws. Talk to your auto defect lawyer if you think this might apply to your situation.

What is a “lemon”?

Sometimes local or state laws are referred to as “lemon laws.” This is because a lemon is a car that is unfit to drive. Before more advanced motor vehicle laws, some dealerships were accused of fixing up a car just enough for it to drive off the lot, but then it would break down hours or days later. That type of car was commonly referred to as a “lemon.” Generally, these cars are unsatisfactory, feeble, or just generally disappointing. This term applies even where the dealership did not do anything negative to the vehicle.

Where can I find vehicle defect laws?

Because vehicles can travel freely across the country, they are regulated at both that national and state level. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (a department of the federal government) has regulations that manufactures and dealerships must follow, keeps a searchable database of recalls, and tracks vehicle defects. If you are looking for information on a specific vehicle or defect, it might be helpful to check their website.

States also have their own regulations that dealerships and manufacturers must follow. The federal law will also trump the state law, but the state law may add in additional variables to the regulations. Most states have a specific state law code section dedicated to motor vehicle laws. The best resource is an auto defect attorney. He or she has worked with these laws extensively and will be able to apply them to your specific situation.