When you buy a car, you expect it to work properly. Unfortunately, ever since cars and automobiles have been woven into the fabric of American life, they have been a source of injuries and accidents through things like improperly designed seat belts, tires that blow out, motorcycles that tremble when driven at high speeds, and vehicles that roll over due to a poor design.
Defects in cars or car parts may occur at the design stage or the manufacturing phase, or both. Some of the most common problems with cars and car parts include defective tires, air bags, seat belts, malfunctioning accelerators or brakes, and inadequate roofs.
When an automobile company releases a subpar product, or a mechanic does an unsatisfactory job repairing your vehicle, you can end up getting injured in an accident on the road. Don’t let another person’s negligence put you in harm’s way.
What damages may be recovered if my car has been recalled by the manufacturer?
Auto defect cases can take the form of a single lawsuit, class action, and mass tort. Our lawyers will investigate your claim and determine whether an automobile product liability lawsuit is appropriate. If enough consumers have been harmed by the defective car or car component, a class action or mass tort action may be available.
The law mandates car makers and manufacturers of car parts and products to ensure their products are reasonably safe for consumers. The law additionally requires manufacturers to recall products that have dangerous designs or defects. Vehicles may also be deemed defective if they fail crashworthiness tests. With a defective car, occupants suffer greater injuries than could reasonably be expected due to defective design or manufacturing. Defects are sometimes the result of companies trying to save money or increase manufacturing speed.
Factors that can cause serious injuries
- Defective airbags
- Car’s poor ability to withstand impacts during collisions (known as crashworthiness)
- Failure by auto repair company to provide adequate repairs
- Seatbelt failure
- Faulty ignition
- Faulty or defective aftermarket products (examples: handicapped accessibility additions, performance parts, fuel pumps, nitrous, suspension systems, turbos)
- Electrical system failure
- Brake defects
- Sudden acceleration
- Defective tires
- Seat back failure during a wreck
- Weak glass
- Fire caused by defective fuel line/gas tank
- Dangerous child safety seats
- Gas pedals that become stuck
- Door latch failure
- Vehicles that are rollover prone
- Defective or dangerous car body and frame
- Faulty steering system
- Leaky tire stem valves
- Dangerous carbon monoxide emissions
- Roof crush
After seatbelts, airbags are the most common safety device in automobiles across the country. Activating at moderate to high speeds at the moment of a crash, drivers count on these devices to protect them and cushion their impact if they are in a car accident. When these devices don’t function properly, however, they provide no protection or, in some cases, can put drivers in greater danger.
A lot of science and engineering goes into making an airbag work properly. A special mixture of chemicals inflates the bag rapidly, while special tethers help the airbag retain its proper shape. With so many pieces that can go wrong, it’s important to understand why some air bags malfunction when you’re pursuing compensation.
Poor design is the first risk factor for an airbag. For safety reasons, airbags should inflate upward and then outward when they release. If an airbag inflates outward first, it can increase the force of impact or hit the driver at an unexpected angle. Car manufacturers are responsible for installing safe airbags in their cars.
Faulty sensors or mechanisms mean your airbag might not inflate in the case of a crash. While you should always be wearing your seatbelt, as well, even with the proper precautions your head can be thrown into the dashboard or steering wheel, causing a skull fracture, concussion or facial injury. Both manufacturers and auto mechanics should advise you of any possible issues with your car’s crash sensors or safety devices.
While it may not involve a direct collision between two vehicles, a rollover can be a frightening experience and one that can result in severe injuries. All vehicles are at risk of a rollover, but sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in particular run a high risk of tipping over due to their top-heavy design. If you’ve been involved in a rollover accident, you will need our experienced attorneys to fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Common causes of rollover accidents
According to a 2003 study, an SUV is more than twice as likely to roll over during a serious accident than a passenger car, due to its higher center of gravity. SUVs are particularly at risk when loaded with cargo inside or on top of them, increasing that weight high above the wheels.
There are four major causes of rollover accidents:
- Excessive speed. The faster you drive, the lower the SUV’s stability when you enter a turn. As a result, even a gradual turn can shift an SUV’s weight enough for it to roll.
- Slippery conditions. The less traction an SUV’s tires have on the ground, the greater the likelihood that the car will slip and turn erratically, an event called “tripping.”
- Overloading. As described above, increasing the weight inside or on top of an SUV raises its center of gravity even higher, increasing the risk of a rollover, especially when combined with other factors.
- Severe slopes and grades. Roads that are designed for water run off or that are built over undulating terrain may put SUVs on a dangerous tilt that can cause or contribute to a roll.
Common rollover injuries
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that rollover accidents account for 35% of all passenger vehicle deaths. Even if a rollover accident doesn’t result in a fatality, passengers are put at risk of numerous injuries including:
- Being spun about inside a rolling vehicle can put tremendous stress on the neck and spine.
- Blunt force trauma. Passengers can be thrown about inside the vehicle, hitting the walls and console and causing concussions, broken bones and other injuries.
- Lacerations. If the vehicle’s windows shatter, passengers may be cut by broken glass flying around the cabin as well.
- Ejection-related injuries. Anyone not wearing a seatbelt may be thrown from a rolling SUV or car, causing even more severe injuries if they collide with a roadside object or are thrown into traffic.
The amount of weight a car’s roof can handle is known as its “roof crush resistance.” Since rollover accidents often leave cars flipped over – sometimes for long periods of time – having a high roof crush resistance is important to your safety. In a roll, pressure is applied to one side, weakening the roof. Then, as the roll continues, more pressure is applied to the other side.
If you’ve been injured in a rollover accident where the roof didn’t protect you, contact our attorneys today. You may have a case.
Being in a rollover accident can be scary enough. When the roof starts giving way, it can cause serious trauma. The roof of your car is supposed to protect you, not worsen your injury.
Most roof crush injuries involve the brain, head, neck, and shoulders.
These may include:
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Wrongful death
How much roof crush resistance should my car have?
Roof crush is similar to crashworthiness, a way of rating a vehicle’s ability to protect people in a crash. Roof crush specifically refers to how much weight a roof can handle.
In the United States, a car’s roof must be able to withstand a minimum of 1.5x its own weight. However, a law passed in 2009 requires all cars to handle at least 3x their own weight by 2017.
The old standard required a roof to withstand pressure equal to one and a half times the vehicle’s curb weight. However, that weight — applied by a metal plate on one side of the roof — could not exceed 5,000 pounds.
Under the new standard from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the roof must withstand three times the curb weight of the vehicle, and there is no longer a 5,000-pound maximum. Furthermore, pressure will be applied first to one side and then the other side of the roof. For years, some safety advocates have asked for a two-sided test. They have argued that it better duplicates what happens when a vehicle rolls.
Automakers must start phasing in the new roofs in September 2012, with the full fleet in compliance by the 2017 model year. Designing those stronger roofs is expected to cost about $54 per vehicle. Meanwhile, added weight will increase the lifetime cost of fuel from $15 to $62.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration went so far as to say roll over accidents are one of the most harmful accidents that can take place. In fact, roughly 10,000 people die every year in rollovers, many as a result of being ejected from the vehicle.
The primary cause of the extensive damage is the lack of sufficient roof-crush protection. As the accident name implies, a rollover places a high level of pressure and weight on the vehicle’s roof. Some auto companies recognize this safety risk and design their cars, SUVs, and trucks to handle a rollover accident; others don’t.
The National Transportation Safety Board has noted that large passenger vans, designed to carry 12 to 15 people, do not have to meet the standard and have problems with roof crush. Over the last few years, N.H.T.S.A. has repeatedly warned that those vehicles, like the Ford E-Series, have tricky handling and are prone to rolling over.