A large portion of product liability litigation over the past few decades has focused on defective automobiles and defective automobile equipment, such as airbags, tires, seats, and seatbelts. Under Florida Law, vehicles must be “crashworthy,” meaning that manufactures should anticipate that vehicles may be in accidents and design their vehicles to reasonably protect occupants during collisions.
Below are a few common examples of automobile product defects claims, though these claims can arise from a variety of circumstances.
Front and side airbags can effectively reduce or avoid injury to vehicle occupants. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), front airbags saved an estimated 32,544 lives between 1987 and 2010. However, automobile and equipment manufacturers sometimes allow defects in these complex safety systems which can result in severe lacerations, burn injuries, fractures, and death to vehicle occupants. According to NHTSA, there were 284 confirmed airbag-related fatalities between 1990 and 2008.
We rely on seatbelts to save lives and trust they will work when we put them on. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelts saved an estimated 12,546 lives in 2010 among occupants age 5 and older. Sadly, sometimes these basic safety devices fail or cause needless injury because of negligence at the design, manufacturing, or installation level. Those defects often go undetected until it is too late.
Seatbacks serve as an occupant’s seatbelt in rear-end collisions. When seats break, suddenly decline, or otherwise fail during a collision, occupants can be ejected, badly injured, or killed. Seatback failures can also cause head trauma and devastating or fatal injuries to backseat passengers. Vehicle seats are there for more than comfort. They are critical safety devices and should be designed to reasonably withstand impacts so as to reduce or limit injury to vehicle occupants.
Rollover & Roof Intrusion
When vehicle roofs and support pillars buckle or fail during an accident, vehicle occupants can be left virtually unprotected. This can cause serious head trauma, brain and spinal cord injuries, and death. Any vehicle can rollover during an accident. However, vehicles with higher centers of gravity, such as SUVs, can be more prone to rollover accidents. Poor roof strength or integrity can unfairly cause injury to those who sit upright and properly use seatbelts.
Tires can fail for a number of reasons, including age, adhesion and bonding failures, improper size, tread separation, poor tire construction, improper tire mixing, improper placement, negligent installation, manufacturing and design defects, and poor plugs and patches – to name a few. Tire blowouts can cause catastrophic injury and death when they occur, both to those occupying the vehicle with tire failure and anyone unfortunate enough to be near that vehicle. Unlike many road hazards, defective tires may be impossible to spot until it is too late.
Brake Failure & Sudden Unintended Acceleration
If you believe you or a loved one were injured due to a defect in an automobile or automobile equipment, contact The DeLuca Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation by calling 305.658.2245. Or, you can complete our Free Case Evaluation Form and we will contact you.