Roads in the U.S. are perilous places, where 35,000 people lose their lives and millions more are injured annually. They are made even more dangerous by the massive number of defective autos that traverse them daily.
Vehicles that are defective have the potential to endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and bystanders. Defective automobiles can either cause collisions or make the injuries sustained in crashes much worse.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale product liability attorneys understand that motor vehicle manufacturers owe consumers a duty to make sure they are making and distributing vehicles that are safe. Any unreasonable or foreseeable risk of danger discovered must be promptly reported to federal regulators and consumers.
Unfortunately, the last few years have resulted in the revelation that some auto manufacturers and auto part makers were systematically and for years concealing injurious and deadly flaws in their product designs. Some examples of this include:
- An ignition switch defect on General Motors vehicles that ultimately resulted in a recall of 30 million cars worldwide in 2014. The defect has been linked to at least 124 deaths and many more injuries. It was later revealed in a U.S. Justice Department inquiry and settlement that the company had been aware of the problem as far back as 2001.
- An unintended acceleration defect involving Toyota vehicles was linked to dozens of deaths and injuries. After a recall of a total of 9.2 million vehicles in 2014, it was revealed the company had known about this issue for years, but actively concealed the truth from consumers. The government later fined the company $1.2 billion and ordered an overhaul of its safety practices.
- Honda issued recalls on defective airbags for 10 million of its vehicles in 2016 after reports going back several years that the Takata-made parts were prone to explosion. Defective Takata airbag inflaters were installed on tens of millions of vehicles from more than a dozen different manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Acura.
Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to promptly warn consumers about dangers like these. However, some companies have proven willing to put profits over the safety of people.Other Vehicle Defects
Other examples of defective vehicles may include:
- Fuel system failures. This occurs when the vehicle is prone to a post-collision fuel-fed fire as a result of having a fuel tank that was poorly designed or positioned.
- Roof crush/ Rollover. Certain vehicles may be more prone to rollover than others, and this could be the result of a design defect. When vehicles do roll over, there needs to be a sufficient roof structure in place in order to prevent the roof from failing and caving in, which could result in personal injury or paralysis.
- Door failures. A door system that improperly opens in a crash could result in an individual being thrown from a vehicle.
- Airbag defect. Takata isn’t the only one that has airbag problems. In the past, some airbags have been deemed defective for failing to deflate or deflating with such extreme force that they cause serious head and neck injuries to driver and passengers.
- Seat belt defect. If a seat belt does not adequately restrain the user or else comes undone upon impact, this could be a defect that may result in serious injuries. In some instances, what might be a survivable crash could prove fatal.
These are just a snapshot of some of the problems a poorly-designed vehicle might have. Both 2014 and 2015 were record years for automobile recalls. The previous annual record had been set in 2004, when approximately 30 million vehicles were recalled. In 2014, there were 51 million vehicles recalled in the U.S., which broke down to about two every single day, for a total of 779. Those recalls affected 1 in 5 vehicles on the road. Then in 2015, there were 868 separate recalls issued, though those affected fewer vehicles – 51.2 million.
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said part of this is because federal regulators have become increasingly vigilant in looking for defects and pressing for them to be addressed. Some car manufacturers are also playing “catch-up” with defects they may have been aware of for some time, but had yet to correct.Types of Product Liability Lawsuits Involving Motor Vehicles
There are two basic types of product liability claims against auto manufacturers. Those are:
- Defective manufacture of vehicle or vehicle part. This claim asserts that the vehicle was improperly made in some way. This could be because there was a mistake at the manufacturing facility or it could mean a problem with where the vehicle part was made It could also mean a failure that occurred during shipping or at some point in the supplier/retail process.
- Design of vehicle is unreasonably dangerous. This asserts that while the vehicle was manufactured according to the design specifications, the design itself was flawed.
In both cases, consumers may assert breach of implied or express warranties (based on promises that the vehicle or vehicle part was safe) as well as failure to warn of the specific danger that caused the crash/ injury.
Our experienced Fort Lauderdale product liability attorneys have the skill and the resources to take on large auto industry manufacturers and help our clients attain compensation – and justice.
Contact Fort Lauderdale Defective Product Attorney Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm by calling toll-free (888) 267-2728.