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Key terms to know if you have a defective vehicle

Vehicles can be defective for numerous reasons. A design defect means it will never be safe, even when assembled properly. A manufacturing defect means mistakes were made during assembly that compromised an otherwise safe design.

If you have a defective car or truck, here are a few key terms you're going to want to know:

  • Recall. This is when the manufacturer admits the mistake and alerts you that it needs to be repaired or replaced, typically at no cost to you.
  • Lemon. This is a vehicle that you've tried to repair many times, but there are so many issues it's just never going to be safe.
  • Crashworthiness. This is a general rating of how well the vehicle can keep you safe during an accident.
  • Defect. An inherent issue that was not caused by an accident, alterations to the vehicle, or anything you did.
  • Warranty. This is the agreement that covers the vehicle after you buy it. Issues that are under warranty are often repaired for free as long as they're not caused by the user.
  • Strict Liability. Legally speaking, this means that the car company is liable for defects. This could be true even if they did not necessarily make a mistake or act recklessly, but the defect exists nonetheless.

Car companies are often very good about fixing defects and issuing recalls, but there have been cases where they have ignored, not discovered or even covered up errors to avoid the high cost of repairs.

In some cases, you don't know you have a defective vehicle until you're injured in an accident. If this happens, be sure you know all of the legal options you have.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Motor Vehicle Defects Law?," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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