This month a few reports appeared that indicated that the aftermarket vehicle market will be shaken up by automated driving technology. But many clients — and even many lawyers — still aren’t fully aware of what constitutes an aftermarket vehicle defect claim. This post gives brief analysis of whether a vehicle has been altered and if the alteration may be to blame for an injury. What is an After-Market (or Incomplete or Altered) Vehicle?
Most cars and trucks on the road are “original equipment” (OEM) vehicles — meaning they were designed, manufactured, tested and sold by a major automaker (GM, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, etc.) and unaltered. However, there are thousands of vehicles on the road that have been modified before put into use. Examples of modified vehicles include:
- Conversion Vans
- Recreational Vehicles (RV’s)
- Handicapped Accessible or Mobility Vehicles
- Mobile Lifts
- Mobile Cranes
Unlike the OEM manufacturers, aftermarket vehicle manufacturers may not be required to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Langdon & Emison has successfully litigated aftermarket defect claims across the country including recent cases in Florida and Oklahoma. We’ve also lectured and published nationally on the topic of aftermarket vehicle hazards. A lot of times in our practice dealing with aftermarket vehicles across the country, we’ve seen even basic engineering practices being ignored, including:
- No engineer on modifier’s staff
- No engineer was ever consulted in designing the modifications
- No design drawings were created for the modifications
- No testing was performed by the modifier
- No process controls were implemented
- No quality controls were implemented
Identifying the Aftermarket Defect
This type of case calls for highly qualified experts to analyze the defects. We have retained former Ford Motor Company design engineers and professors at famed engineering programs to help establish and demonstrate these design defects in the aftermarket modifications. Experts are essential in developing and presenting detailed engineering testimony required to prove causation, and to identify specific defective components, identify the mode of failure, and identify safer alternative designs. To learn more, consider reading our in-depth articles on the aftermarket arena:
- Emison, Brett. “’Altered Reality’: Hidden Dangers of Modified Products and After-Market Components.” Illinois Trial Journal.
- Emison, Brett. “Get Educated: The Dangers of Aftermarket Vehicles.” The Safety Report.
- Emison, Brett. “Aftermarket Parts and Their Consequences in Litigation.” American Lawyer Media.
- Emison, J. Kent and Brett Emison. “Danger on the Open Road.” Trial. American Association for Justice.
A partner with Langdon & Emison, Mark has demonstrated proven leadership within his firm and the legal community. Since joining the firm in 2011, Mr. Emison has obtained substantial results for his clients, including seven-figure verdicts and settlements. He also has published articles on trucking accident litigation and other topics in national and state legal publications.