Accidents Due to Car Defects

Mar 09

For motor vehicle owners, a vehicle recall would definitely be familiar, especially if the vehicle they own is one of those that is presently, or has been, part of a recall. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle recall becomes necessary if the same problem has been cited as the cause of accidents involving vehicles of the same make and model.

Specifically, a recall is made either by the manufacturer (voluntary recall) or through a court order that is instigated by the NHTSA if:

  1. The defective vehicle or vehicle part poses a risk to the safety of the driver, passengers or anyone on the road; and,
  2. The vehicle or any of its parts has failed to comply with the minimum performance requirement established by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Minimum performance standards are aimed at ensuring the safe operation of a vehicle and the safety of all vehicle occupants (driver and passengers) from injury or death in the event of a crash; there are minimum standards for brakes, tires, lighting, air bags, safety belts, child restraints and other parts.

In September of 2014, Ford recalled more than 850,000 of its vehicles due to defective airbags and seat belts; on the month that followed, Chrysler discovered these same defects in about 184,215 of their SUVs worldwide, thus, prompting said manufacturer to recall their defective vehicles.

Vehicle recalls usually happen after consumers send their complaints to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), a department of the NHTSA. The most recent biggest auto-safety recall in the history of the car industry in the US, thus far, involves Takata-made airbags that are said to explode, shooting potentially fatal metal fragments inside the vehicle. These (driver-side) airbags have been linked to hundreds of injuries and five deaths.

Based on records from safercar.gov, about 19 million vehicles in the US have been installed with this defective airbag; around the world, the total number of vehicles affected and, thus, being recalled, is 53 million. Some of the vehicles affected are Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Daihatsu, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, BMW and Lexus.

The installation of airbags in vehicles was made a law by the NHTSA in 1984. This law mandated the installation of an automatic occupant protection device (such as an air bag or an automatic seat belt) in all passenger cars manufactured after April 1, 1989. Then, in 1991, the US Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which required the installation of air bags on the driver (frontal) side and passenger side in all passenger cars and light trucks that are to be manufactured after September 1, 1997; the Act also mandated the installation of manual lap-shoulder belts on the said types of vehicles which will be manufactured after September 1, 1998.

Besides airbags, defective parts or defective vehicles have also been discovered in the past, resulting to millions of vehicle recalls, like the 22 million vehicles recalled by more than 10 car manufacturers (in 2013) due to malfunctioning parts, which included steering wheels, brake pads, tires, seat belts, child seats, wipers and engines which caused gas to leak.

According to the website of personal injury lawyers at the Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg law firm, automakers have the obligation to do everything to fix the defect as soon as they become aware of it. Fixing the defect, however, does not release them from being accountable for whatever accidents it has caused. To conceal, as much as possible, the details about the defect and the accidents, many car makers, continued the said firm, reach out to victims with attractive settlement offers.

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Defective Road Conditions

Oct 22

Road defects may be a nuisance that is can be avoided, and occasionally it can do some substantial damage to your car. If you have been a victim of road defects, generally, you rant and rave about it for a little while then decide to get over it and just pay the repair bill. But when highway defects become the basis for severe injuries that result in death and trauma, that’s a different matter completely. You may have to get the party liable to pay you for your substantial losses.

Once you have the applicable information, your next thing would be to record a notice of a possible injury lawsuit, which will give the agency the opportunity to react to the claim. If you are fortunate, the bureau will discover that your claim is valid and will get it settled for you then and there. But it’s more probable that your claim will be rejected. In either case, do not forget to pass it through your attorney.

The website of the Sampson Law Firm states that road flaws tend to be a product of negligence i.e. inadequate care. Keep in mind, however, that when you might have a lawsuit for highway defects, you’re taking on the government, which you should not do ill-advised. Furthermore, authorities have sovereign immunity, which limits their responsibilities to major highway defects i.e. want of reasonable care and maintenance.

You will be told all possible defendants on your specific case by the lawyer according to the circumstances of the accident. These will contain the when, where, what, why and how, so the lawyer can charge the responsible bureau. In Kentucky, the different agencies in charge of roadwork might be the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet if you’re on one of the bridges, the main roads, or the crossing of the express. The fault could also be on the county or city level, and even the contractors who are employed to ensure safe road conditions.

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Rollover – A Life-Threatening Accident

Jun 18

About 24,000 cases of serious injuries and 10,000 deaths, all due to rollover accidents, are reported to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) every year.

According to the website of the Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Pohl and Berk, a rollover accident, wherein a vehicle rolls onto its side or roof, can be life-threatening like head-on collisions. The effect can be worse if the driver were speeding prior to the accident, and still much worse if the vehicle’s roof collapses and crashes down on the driver’s and passengers’ head and spine, resulting to serious head and spinal injuries.

A vehicle, which is prone to oversteering, especially when making a sharp turn, or understeering (or turn less sharply), can rollover. More susceptible to rollover accidents, however, are pickups, passenger vans and SUVs which are vehicles designed with a high ground clearance or a high center of gravity but with a narrow track width as shown by the distance between their left and right wheels. Vehicles designed this way have lesser stability and reduced steering capacity, and these are further reduced if the weight of the passengers and cargo (whether these are placed inside or on top of the vehicle) are not equally distributed.

Analysis of data (on car accidents) made by the NHTSA show that speed (above 55mph) and alcohol intoxication are major contributory factors to rollover accidents. However, despite this statistical information, speed and alcohol may only be considered as secondary factors, the first being the vehicle’s faulty manufacturing design.

If a vehicle with a high ground clearance and narrow track width corners too sharply or drives down a steep slope, it can easily fail to remain upright or slide sideways and so, rollover, as a result. In addressing the problems of stability and steering control and help ensure driver safety in the process, giant car manufacturers introduced the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, also known as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), a computerized safety device that helps improve vehicle stability by reducing chances of skidding or loss of traction. This safety device consists of sensors that are able to detect loss of vehicle control, automatically applying brakes on each wheel, if it does so, to enable the driver to steer the vehicle back on track. ESC also helps to keep the vehicle stable, especially during quick turns, improves traction and reduces chances of oversteering and understeering.

But while ESC may save a driver and other vehicle passengers from injuries or death in the event of a rollover, faulty manufacturing design will not. A rollover is a serious accident. Besides a threat to life, it also causes major damage to properties. It will definitely be in the best interest of rollover victims, therefore, if they contact a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer immediately to inquire about their legal rights and options in pursuing compensation for whatever damages they suffer.

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