When Defective Auto Components Cause Accidents Or Worsen Injuries
Americans rely on the safety engineers in the auto industry to keep our families safe, even in an accident. However, like any manufactured machine with thousands of parts and components, sometimes those parts and components are inherently defective, poorly designed, manufactured improperly, or simply fail during use. If your car is suffering from defective auto components, then there is a strong likelihood that you will be involved in an accident.
When an individual is injured or killed in an auto accident, it is important to examine every aspect of the case, even when another driver is clearly at fault. It is often the case that someone suffers far more serious injuries from a malfunctioning safety component in their own vehicle than they suffered from the collision itself. This is sometimes called “The accident within the accident.”
The Brandi Law Firm has a team of auto design failure lawyers, investigators, engineers, doctors and nurses who investigate auto product liability injury cases in detail. Manufacturers such as General Motors (GM), Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes and various part suppliers have been defendants in cases in which we recovered substantial recoveries for our clients.
Examples of defective vehicle parts that are often factors in serious accidental injuries are discussed in detail below.
Hundreds of people are seriously injured or killed in California each year in tire blowout accidents, tire-tread separations and other types of tire defects. Sudden tire failure is particularly dangerous in vehicles with a high center of gravity such as trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and 15-passenger vans, which are prone to rollover.
Tire tread separation and subsequent blowout can often be traced to poor bonding or adhesion of the steel belt to the rubber components of the tire during manufacturing. Another little-known cause of failure is tire aging. Tires, like any rubber product, have a limited shelf life. When old tires that have been stored in a warehouse for several years are sold to consumers, catastrophic tire blowouts can be the result. Also, improper tire placement, where two new tires are placed on the front of the vehicle, instead of the rear, will cause hydroplaning on a wet road.
The Brandi Law Firm has a team of attorneys, investigators, engineers, doctors and nurses who work together to gather evidence regarding injuries caused by tire blowout accidents and other types of tire failure.
Seat Belt Defects
When you get in your car, buckle your seat belt, and lean forward as far as you can. And then ask yourself, “Will that belt really stop me in an accident? Most of us count on our seat belts to protect us if we are involved in an accident. Unfortunately, many vehicles have seat belt defects such as:
- Excessive “spool out”
- Lack of seatbelt pre-tensioners to automatically snug the lap belt and shoulder belt at the start of a crash
- Latching mechanism failure
- Passive seat belt design
- Torn or ribbed webbing
- Retractor failure
- Defective design
The Brandi Law Firm has a team of attorneys, investigators, engineers, doctors and nurses who examine seat belt failure injury cases.
When you are in an automobile collision, your seat belt is intended to keep you from ejecting through the windshield or into the steering wheel or dashboard. However, the structural integrity of the back of your seat is a key element to the effectiveness of the seat belt. In rear-end collisions, for example, your body is thrust forward and then violently backward. If defective the seatback may collapse with the force of your body recoiling backward. As a result, the seat belt is no longer able to protect you, resulting in far more severe damage:
- Seat backs fail to support the back and neck resulting in a neck, back or spinal cord injury
- Seatback collapses cause the individual to be thrown into other passengers or components of the car, resulting in fractures, head injury or other injuries
- Poorly designed headrests cause too little support, increasing the risk for paralysis; conversely, improperly designed headrests push the head forward causing neck injury or wrongful death
Seatback defects can transform even a minor accident, such as a fender bender or minor rear-end collision, into an accident with catastrophic injuries. The unfortunate fact is many major vehicle manufacturers are aware of this issue but refuse to correct known defects. Although the correction may be minor in cost, in comparison to the lasting effect of a serious injury, motor vehicle manufacturers continue to make the decision to place profits before safety.
Most vehicles contain only tempered glass in their side, rear and sunroof windows. In accidents, the tempered glass can shatter, causing severe lacerations to the occupants, as well as creating an opening where a passenger can be ejected.
For decades, auto manufacturers have been required to make auto windshields out of laminated glass, which consists of two layers of tempered glass with a tough plastic inner layer. Even though the tempered glass may break in a collision, the plastic laminate will hold the glass together, preventing lacerations and vehicle ejections. While auto manufacturers have introduced laminated glass in the side windows of some luxury vehicles, we don’t believe that car safety should be a luxury.
Door Latch Defects
We count on our car’s door latches to function as designed and to keep us safely inside the passenger compartment if we are ever involved in a side-impact collision or rollover accident. If the latches work properly, the doors of our vehicle will stay closed and we may survive the accident with no injuries whatsoever. If they don’t work, however, car doors can fly open upon impact, causing passengers to be ejected, seat belts to be cut, and other serious injuries to occupants to occur. Door latch defects can exist because of weak materials or poor design.
Child Restraint Defects
Vehicle restraint and protection devices are designed for an average-sized adult. Therefore, children who are not in an appropriate child car seat, booster seat or other specific child restraint device are not protected by the vehicle’s restraint systems should an accident occur. Therefore, California laws mandate that all children under the age of 8 must be secured in a booster seat or other child passenger restraint.
If the restraint system works properly, your child may be spared injuries following a collision or rollover accident. If it doesn’t work, however, your child can suffer serious injuries and even wrongful death.
Car manufacturers are now required to include the LATCH child seat-tethering system consisting of two lower anchors and an upper anchor. Children are safest when properly restrained in the back seat in a removable car seat, booster seat, or infant car seat. It is important to take such precautions when placing your child in the car to avoid serious injuries. Although California laws use eight years old as a factor for child safety seats or booster seats, it is important to remember that children develop at different speeds.
When parents follow the precautions advised by law and by car seat manufacturers, yet a child still suffers catastrophic injuries in an accident, child restraint defects may be to blame.
In an emergency braking maneuver, we count on our car’s brakes to function as designed and to safely bring us to a controlled stop. If our brakes work properly, we can avoid accidents with no injuries whatsoever. If they don’t work, however, the vehicle can skid out of control. Dozens of people are seriously injured or killed in California each year due to brake defects such as premature lock-up or ABS failures, brake-line defects, fluid leaks, or improper or defective brake maintenance. Many people are also seriously injured or killed by defective parking brakes.
A brake failure may come from a defective component or inadequate repair. The Brandi Law Firm has access to the best experts in the nation who can reconstruct accidents and determine why people have been injured.
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