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What is Motor Vehicle Defects Law?

Definition of Motor Vehicle Defects Law

Motor Vehicle Defects Law is a part of consumer protection law that deals with cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Every vehicle manufacturer and dealership warrants to its consumers that the cars they sell are safe to drive. However, not every car sold is safe to drive. If some designer made a poor choice or some mistake was made in manufacturing process, drivers could be operating vehicles that contain deadly defects.

The owner of a defective car is typically entitled to repair or replacement free of cost. Sometimes the dealership or manufacturer will notice the defect on its own and offer to repair it by issuing a recall. When the dealership does not offer a recall, the vehicle owners must keep track of the number of times the car needed to be repaired, and if the car spends an excessive amount of time in the shop the owner may be entitled to replacement under Lemon Laws. Motor Vehicles Defects Law also influences cases when neither the owner nor the manufacturers notice a defect, and the defect subsequently causes an accident. Victims of these accidents may be able to collect damages from the manufacturer for allowed a car with a dangerous defect in to the market.

Terms to Know

  • Lemon: A car that, despite many repair attempts, remains unfit to drive.
  • Recall: A notice from a manufacturer that a product which is already on the market contains a defect that needs to be repaired.
  • Defect: While any issue with a vehicle may technically be considered a "defect," motor vehicle defects law is primarily concered with defects in systems that support the vehicle's safe operation, such as acceleration, braking, and steering; or those systems designed to protect the vehicle's occupants, like seat belts and airbags.
  • Crashworthiness: The ability of a vehicle to protect its occupants in a collision.
  • Strict Liability: A legal theory which states that, if there is a defect in an automobile, the manufacturer or dealership is liable for any resulting damages even if they did nothing wrong.
  • Warranty: A seller's promise that the vehicles they sell are safe to operate.

Practice Area Notes

Motor Vehicle Defects Law is a mix of federal and state laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a department of the federal government, issues regulations regarding vehicle safety which most manufactures and dealerships must follow. It also keeps track of vehicle defects and recalls and keeps a searchable database of all recalls on its website. Many states issue additional safety regulations in addition to the federal regulations, and state law controls the legal procedure for addressing vehicle defects. It's important to discuss your motor vehicle defect related issue with a local attorney in order to understand your state's rules and regulations. You can find a motor vehicle defect attorney near you using the search tools below.

Related Practice Areas

  • Consumer Protection: Motor Vehicle Defects Law can be considered part of consumer protection law, which governs seller warranties.
  • Lemon Law: The set of laws that give consumers the right to replace defective vehicles, or "lemons," free of cost.
  • Products Liability: Motor Vehicle Defects Law is also a subset of Products Liability Law, which ensures that products are safe for consumer use.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Motor vehicle defects occasionally cause motor vehicle accidents, and when they do the manufacturer may be liable for damages.
  • Insurance Law: Automobile insurance may reimburse its clients for the costs of an accident caused by a vehicle defect.
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