Purchasing a vehicle that turns out to be defective is disappointing. Discovering that the problem was due to car manufacturers saving money by skipping safety technology is infuriating. That’s why Langdon & Emison fights passionately to help clients injured due to car defects in Kansas City. We know your injuries could have been avoided if the manufacturer had done their due diligence and ensured the car was safe to market.

Call us at (866) 931-2115 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a Kansas City personal injury lawyer.

What are the main types of car defects?

Design issue

Design issues warrant speaking with a Kansas City car defects lawyer immediately because the flaw may impact many others nationwide who have purchased the same vehicle. Issues with the design will occur in every vehicle produced, leading to a large recall that will take the product off the market.

Examples of design issues with cars include:

  • Easily rolls over
  • Roof collapses, crushing occupants when the vehicle rolls over

Manufacturing issue

If the dangerous issue is not due to the vehicle’s design, it may come down to production. During the manufacturing process, there are opportunities for errors that would make normal vehicle use dangerous. These typically occur in small batches of vehicles.

Examples of manufacturing issues are:

  • Gas pedals that stick
  • Incorrect engine setup that leads to combustion
  • Ineffective airbags in one set of vehicles

Not adequately tested

Sometimes, product liability will not be revealed until the company has properly tested the vehicle. With many companies trying to release new models onto the market sooner and with lower costs, they will skip this important phase.

Other companies may do some tests but skip other vital tests that ensure the safety of their vehicles.

Untested vehicles can present a host of dangers to consumers who require the help of a Kansas City vehicle defects lawyer.

Which car parts are most commonly found defective?

A part is considered “defective” when it has safety problems that pose a danger of bodily injury or death to its occupants or others on the road. These are the most common types of defective car parts:

Recalls on defective car parts

If a product is found to be defective, the company that manufactures it has a moral and legal obligation to take it off the market. Once they know the vehicle is faulty, they must either replace the faulty parts for free or refund the consumer’s money and collect the faulty vehicle.

Car manufacturers do not like recalling vehicles as it publicly affects their reputation and profits. With limited oversight, these issues will keep occurring.

What is Missouri’s lemon law?

Missouri has a “Lemon Law,” a collection of statutes offering consumer protections for defective vehicles. If you purchase a new vehicle and encounter a problem within the first year, and attempts to repair the defect are unsuccessful, then that vehicle is considered a “lemon.” You’re entitled to a refund of the purchase or a replacement vehicle.

Missouri’s New Vehicle Warranty Law applies to new vehicles only if the vehicle is less than one year old. However, in some cases, federal consumer protection laws apply to used vehicle purchases. If you purchase a used vehicle under warranty, you may have recourse under federal law if multiple attempts to repair a defect are unsuccessful.

It’s important to note that the law usually requires at least three to four repair attempts before the vehicle can be considered a lemon, subject to state and federal lemon laws.

Consumer rights and protections in Missouri

Missouri regulates extended service contracts offered by dealerships for used vehicles. Important points to note:

  • This service contract cannot be called a warranty
  • Must offer a “free look” period for customers to evaluate the protection
  • These contracts cover repairs of defects and general maintenance of the vehicle

If you have a warranty in place or an extended service contract, check the terms of the document. Determine what remedy you have if multiple attempts to repair the defect are unsuccessful.

If the problem persists, a Missouri lemon law attorney can explain your legal recourse for a refund or replacement vehicle.

Federal consumer rights and protections

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

The 1975 Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act is a federal law governing consumer product warranties. It requires the warranty-providing party to make detailed information about the warranty available for buyers. The protections of this law also extend to implied warranties, service contracts, and express warranties.

If a warranty covers your vehicle, the manufacturer or dealership should provide the necessary repairs to the defect. If that party fails to fulfill the warranty terms or otherwise breaches it, the Magnuson-Moss Act permits buyers to file a lawsuit for breach of warranty.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) establishes and enforces Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. These standards apply to all motor vehicles sold in the U.S., regardless of where they were manufactured.

If a manufacturer notes a defect in a specific vehicle make and model year or a certain batch of manufactured vehicles, it must alert the NHTSA. It must share any plans for a recall or instructions for owners to have their vehicles repaired or a replacement part installed. Usually, the manufacturer voluntarily issues the recall and will correct the problem for free. However, consumers also have the right to report defects to the NHTSA, who, in turn, may make the manufacturer announce the defect and remedy.

If you’re concerned that your vehicle may have a defect or aren’t sure if your particular automobile has been recalled, you can search the NHTSA website by VIN.

How do I report a defective vehicle?

If you notice a problem with a new vehicle, your first step should be to notify the manufacturer and take it to the dealership for repair. You cannot seek compensation under Missouri Lemon Law without first notifying the manufacturer of the issue within one year of purchase. You should speak with a lawyer if this fails to solve the problem.

Lemon law attorneys can send a written notice to the vehicle manufacturer detailing the problem with the car and your steps to have it repaired before a final repair attempt. Once the manufacturer receives this notice, it should direct you to an appropriate repair facility. If this fails, it’s safe to say that you have a lemon and the right to pursue your equity claim.

You may be required to go through arbitration, a formal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) step, before going to court. The arbitration board reviews the paperwork associated with the sale and repair of the vehicle and issues a ruling. If unsatisfied with this ruling, you and your lawyer may file a lawsuit.

The impact of vehicle recalls on drivers

The financial impact of a defective vehicle is more than just the expense of repairs. Many people may miss work because of unreliable transportation or spend excessively on rental cars or rideshares while the defective vehicle is in the shop. Lemon law compensation covers repairs or the cost of a vehicle replacement, if necessary, but often doesn’t extend to your other financial losses.

You may be eligible to file a lawsuit if you’re not satisfied with the manufacturer’s response after arbitration (which most warranties require before other legal steps). This way, you’re demanding compensation for all your losses, including intangible ones like safety risks and mental distress.

What if my car is still under warranty?

If your car is still under warranty when you start encountering problems with a defect, you should follow the terms of the warranty. This may include notifying the manufacturer and bringing your vehicle to a manufacturer-approved repair facility (a dealership or mechanic approved to complete warranty work by the manufacturer).

Not every car shop may be factory-approved for warranty work. You may invalidate your warranty if you take your vehicle to a non-factory-approved or certified facility for repairs.

Missouri law recognizes two basic types of warranties: express and implied. Your recourse for a warranty claim may depend on your vehicle’s warranty. Both kinds of warranties are still considered contracts under Missouri law.

Implied warranties

Per Missouri law, implied warranties are a car dealer’s basic promise that the vehicle will do what it’s supposed to and that there is nothing significantly wrong with it. Implied warranty law applies each time a vehicle is sold. If the vehicle does not perform as it should, the dealer must provide a remedy so that the driver gets a working car.

Express warranties

An express warranty contains specific terms and recourse for repairing any defect. The manufacturer explicitly offers it. Missouri law considers an express warranty a voluntary commitment by the dealer to remedy defects or malfunctions in a vehicle that some drivers may experience. If you have an express warranty for your vehicle, then your remedy for replacing or repairing your vehicle will be dictated by the terms of the warranty.

Should I join a class-action lawsuit for my defective vehicle?

Class-action lawsuits combine multiple plaintiffs with the same complaint against the same defendant. They may involve many lawyers, each representing one or more plaintiffs in the class. The lawyers pool their resources, and all class members are treated as one monolith plaintiff.

The major benefit of these class actions is that plaintiffs can access multiple law firms’ resources. Car manufacturers have deep pockets for litigation; by combining cases and resources, plaintiffs’ attorneys are on a more even playing field.

A class-action settlement is one big pot of money divided between the plaintiffs. Your portion of the settlement may be less than what you could secure. You may also get lost in the shuffle with multiple participants, and your personal needs may not be addressed.

Missouri’s statute of limitations for pursuing a car defect claim

You have 18 months from purchasing the defective vehicle to file a claim, per Missouri Lemon Law. If this deadline passes, you may be able to file a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act up to four years after the vehicle’s purchase date.

Navigating insurance claims after a wreck

If you got into an accident because your car malfunctioned, you should contact a lawyer ASAP. The other driver is within their rights to file a lawsuit against you, and you may need legal advice to sort out liability.

If the root cause of the accident is a defective vehicle, then you and the other driver may have grounds to file a suit against the car manufacturer. To reduce the chances of being personally liable in this event, it’s important to have a lawyer protect your rights, starting with identifying the accident’s cause and correctly assigning liability.

How can I prevent buying another lemon?

Before buying a new or used car, do your homework. You can check the NHTSA website for recalled vehicles and avoid buying bands with frequent recalls. You can also look online at sites like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com for reviews about new and used vehicles, including those with safety (and other types) or recalls.

Contact a Kansas City car defects attorney

If a car defect in Kansas City has injured you, contact Langdon & Emison. Our product liability lawyers have taken on large car manufacturers before and continue to do so to create a safer community for us all.

Book a consultation today to find out how we can get you maximum compensation for your injuries.

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