Defective Electronics: Miami Car Accident Lawyer Sean M. Cleary
How we help after a car accident due to defective electronic components?
In the defect investigation process following the car accident, we consult with experts on software and systems engineering of the car, electronics, hardware, and human factors.
Sean M. Cleary
Top Rated Electronic Components Attorney in Miami
The rise in technologically advanced vehicles is causing a raft of new types of car and component recalls. Today's cars contain many electronic components with over 100M lines of code. When there is that much new software in a car, there is no doubt that errors are present. There is a surge in the field incidents reported by car makers related to electronics involving injury or death. Investigations triggered by these incidents turn into car recalls. In the last four years, the rate of software-related car recalls has risen from under 5% of all recalls to 15%. General Motors alone has recalled nearly 4.3M vehicles worldwide for multiple software defects in their cars.
Defective electronic components in a car
Cars are as much about the interaction between the onboard software and electronic parts, and the safety and entertainment features they enable, as they are vehicles that transport us from point A to point B. Software bugs, viruses, and errors and many other issues with electronics happen in ways no one could have anticipated during the design and manufacturing stages. This is particularly the case given Miami's unique cocktail of air, sun, and humidity that’s one of the most corrosive in the world, causing internal components in a vehicle to degrade faster than in other parts of the country.
Car suppliers and manufacturers do not always know the extent of other components in the system or understand how those components will interact. These car components are all connected in a system that must function seamlessly. Even if multiple car components in the system communicate well, suppliers need to realize that the physical environment can cause risks that could affect the performance of the electronic components and software of the car. For example, extreme temperatures, humidity levels, objects hitting a car, skidding, and low-impact collisions are just a few of the seemingly minor situations that could ultimately compromise the safety of all passengers in a car accident.
Unfortunately, Florida drivers aren't able to detect defects in the electronic components of their cars until something malfunctions in the car or they receive a recall notice. Technology-related recalls include two types of defects:
Electronic components. Malfunction or failure of electronic components due to a physical defect. These include defects related to water intrusion, wiring failure, etc.
Software integration, defect, and remedy. These defects include cases when: software on one component does not communicate correctly with another component or piece of software; software controlling a component needs to be fixed because it was programmed incorrectly, or was programmed correctly but is not working; software replacement is identified as the appropriate remedy for a component defect.
Hardware and components affected by recalls include, but are not limited to:
Vehicle Speed Control
Engine and Engine Cooling
Electronic recalls are much more common in new vehicles. In the last year, technology-focused recalls affected more than 14M automobiles, including, but not limited to, the following:
Nissan recalled approximately 3.3M vehicles related to a defect in the occupant classification system.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. recalled over 161K vehicles because electric relays can cause the engine to stall or overheat.
Chrysler Ram recalled over 16K vans because of an ignition switch that may experience an intermittent loss of electrical contact.
Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis recalled over 296K cars because a defective lighting control module (LCM) that can reduce driver visibility and increase the risk of a crash. Ford Escape recalled over 9K cars because faulty wiring could cause a sensor to provide incorrect signals, which can make the engine stall.
Hyundai Motor America recalled more than 200 vehicles believed to contain defective electronic power control units.
Mercedes-Benz S550 Hybrid recalled 52 cars because of a defective high voltage onboard charger.
Common defective electronics and the injuries they can cause
Automotive electronic components & parts can suffer from faults and defects that have the potential to cause harm. While in some cases these defects are minor, in others they can cause serious damage and injuries to the people who use them.
Electrical system defects in a car or defective batteries may cause vehicle fires. A defective electrical sunroof may suddenly buckle, shatter and send glass shards, causing a fire to start in the passenger compartment and injuring the passengers, even if the engine is off and the keys are not in the ignition at the time. Several plug-in electric vehicles have caught fire after their lithium-ion battery packs were damaged. Lithium-ion batteries may suffer thermal runaway and cell rupture if overheated or overcharged, and in extreme cases, this can lead to combustion. This seems to be what happened in these fires when damage to the battery packs caused short-circuits leading to thermal runaway.
A malfunction in the software and computer systems of the car. This defect may cause a vehicle to switch gears at improper and inopportune moments randomly. The unintended shifts may lead to serious car accidents.
A defective electronic may cause sudden unintended acceleration in a car. This can be caused by a defect in pulleys in the vehicle’s cruise control systems. Losing control of the acceleration of a car may cause accidents with serious injuries.
Faulty ignition switches. The ignition switch directs every action of a car. Cut off the electrical power, and you suddenly have no control of the vehicle. An ignition switch malfunction may cause you to lose control of your brakes, lose power steering capabilities, lose airbag deployment capabilities. Without power, the engine will stop running. But that doesn’t mean the car stops moving. Momentum will keep it coasting.
Defective electronics may cause serious car accidents, drivers and passengers may be left with debilitating injuries or the injuries may even be fatal:
Defective electronic components: Liability and compensation
Each manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and adequately tested before they are released on the market. Poor manufacturing or design and negligence during testing can cause serious injuries or death. Manufacturers bear a significant financial burden from the unprecedented level of recalls in the last years. Because this represents a remarkable hit to their income statements and balance sheets, they are finding ways to recover a portion of those costs from suppliers that they believe are accountable for at least part of the liability stemming from a defect. Depending on the circumstances an injury claim may be filed against:
The manufacturer of the electronic component
The automobile manufacturer
The company that distributed the vehicle or the car dealer
Victims of car accidents caused by defective electronic components can file a claim and demand compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering due to the traumatic experience of the accident, lost wages, property damages, etc.
How can we help after a defective electronic component caused your car accident?
Any effort to earn full, fair compensation through our legal system for damages and injuries will require an attorney with relevant experience and a tenacious approach. We have had numerous successes that provide critical insight into how to build compelling cases against negligent manufacturers of motor vehicles and other products. We offer strong research capabilities and connections to accident re-constructionists and auto industry engineers able to provide credible testimony about the causes of an accident. We have proven negotiating and trial skills essential for obtaining positive results when the opposition is a major corporation with vast financial resources.
With a dedicated team of highly skilled and hardworking specialists, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary is able to support the victims and their families in their endeavor to get compensation for their injuries and suffering. We offer full assistance for gathering the best and convincing evidence to support your case in court. A free initial case evaluation is available for any person interested in our services so that we can fully understand your situation and determine how we can help. Call 305.416.9805 or contact us online for a free consultation. Attorney Sean M. Cleary is prepared to collaborate on your behalf, assessing your case carefully and providing honest, forthright counsel on what next steps make sense for you.
Can I Still Recover Damages If I Wasn’t Wearing the Seatbelt When the Accident Happened? »
If your car accident was caused by another driver or by a defective car part, the fact that your seat belt was not fastened at the time cannot be used in the guilty party’s defense. Also, you may have a medical certificate stating you have an affection preventing you from wearing the seatbelt.