A door latch may seem to be a relatively unimportant auto part. In fact, it is an integral component of an automobile's safety systems. Not only can a door latch failure compromise the structural integrity of an automobile, it is the likeliest cause of occupant ejection during an accident. The likelihood of suffering a serious injury or death increases considerably when one is ejected from an automobile during an accident.
An automobile occupant who is ejected during a rollover accident, for instance, risks striking a tree or being crushed by his or her own vehicle, often resulting in broken bones, spinal, or head injuries. This type of eventuality could have been and can be prevented with properly functioning door locks and latches.
But for a victim of such an auto accident to prove that the automaker improperly manufactured or designed the car door or door latch is quite another matter. In order to receive compensation in a lawsuit, the following elements may need to be proven:
- The door latch failed during the accident
- The door latch failed to meet National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) crashworthiness standards
- The door failed as the result of a weak or malfunctioning door latch
- The door failure caused you or your loved one a serious or fatal injury
Several automakers are facing lawsuits for improperly designed or manufactured door latches responsible for causing serious injuries in auto accidents. About 100 people have been injured or killed after being ejected from GM vehicles whose "type III" door latches failed.Mitsubishi Motors has been found to have omitted evidence regarding door latch failures in its vehicles. Chrysler has settled cases involving defective door latches.
More notably, from 1997 to 2000, the Ford Motor Company equipped F-150 and F-150 trucks, Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators with substandard door latches made by Donnelly Corp. A recall was scheduled for March, 2000 so that the torque of the latch springs could be increased. The recall was not only subsequently cancelled, owners of vehicles with the defective door latches were not notified of the potential hazard.
Ford has since recalled 2000-2002 Focus four-door and five-door models with door latches that have a propensity to become corroded, preventing the car doors from remaining closed.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a defective car door latch, you should consider consulting with a product liability attorney. With the help of a skilled automotive product liability attorney, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages and other accident related expenses.
Contact our Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys today to find an experienced defective automobile lawyer near you.