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An aftermarket vehicle is one which has been altered or enhanced between the time it left the original automaker and the time it is purchased by the end-user. Aftermarket vehicles are usually altered to suit a particular business purposes. Examples of aftermarket vehicles include:
A change in the vehicle’s structure can change the way it handles and performs, by placing too much weight on the suspension or displacing the center of gravity, making the vehicle more likely to rollover or expose the occupants to serious injury in the event of a collision. The end user who purchases an aftermarket vehicle may not understand that the vehicle has been altered, rather than originally constructed that way.
In addition to companies purchasing aftermarket vehicles for business purposes, individual car enthusiasts may also have their vehicles altered or modified after they have purchased them, such as by adding spoilers or raising or lowering the vehicle on its suspension. Modifications made by auto mechanics or body shops can significantly alter the way the car handles or responds in emergency situations. The shops making these modifications may not appreciate how these changes will affect the car’s handling; they may fail to inform the consumer, or they may implement changes defectively or without regard to safety. Even having the tires on a vehicle replaced with “high-performance” tires may increase the risk of a rollover or loss of control.
Auto manufacturers are held to strict standards under products liability law, and they may be liable for manufacturing a car that is defectively designed or defectively made. Automakers are also held to strict governmental regulations as to safety. The aftermarket industry is not regulated in the same way, however. In fact, many aftermarket companies never test their products and designs for safety. They should nevertheless be held liable when their designs and manufactures are responsible for causing a serious accident or injury.
When an accident involves an aftermarket vehicle or vehicle modification, the questions of negligence, liability and fault often become more complicated. If you are involved in an accident with an aftermarket vehicle, seek advice and representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled a variety of automobile accident cases. In New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.