Articles Posted in Auto Product Liability

A Consumer Reports analysis of a federal safety complaints database is showing that more than 40 percent of sudden acceleration complaints involve Toyota and Lexus models. According to a recent news report, the study looked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) safety complaints database, which apparently also found Ford standing out with a significant number of complaints relating to sudden acceleration.

Consumer Reports analyzed all 5,916 reports on 2008 models and identified 166 cases in which the complaint described unintended, sudden acceleration that the driver could not control. A fatal car accident in San Diego which killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family led Toyota and NHTSA to issue a safety advisory on floor-mat entrapment. Toyota is also preparing for a massive recall involving 4 million vehicles to modify gas pedals and make other changes to remedy potential sudden acceleration problems. Consumer Reports’ research found that sudden acceleration incidents were distributed over 22 brands with 47 complaints about Toyota models and five about Lexus vehicles.
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Tire defects can become a serious factor in car accidents causing devastating injuries and in numerous cases, fatalities. Many car accidents are the result of what is known as “tire tread separation.” The aftermath of such accidents can be catastrophic. Tread belt separations frequently cause tire blowouts. Even when the tire does not lose pressure, the driver often loses control of the vehicle when the tire tread and belt separate from the tire. Even experienced and skilled drivers can lose control of their vehicles. There is also more of a chance that a vehicle can roll over, causing serious personal injury and even deaths.

There was a recent report of an SUV rollover crash involving tire tread separation, which resulted in four people getting ejected from the vehicle. Thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries. Apparently, in this case, the tread came off a rear tire, causing it to blow out. The driver ended up losing control of the SUV. The SUV then rolled over ejected three men, who were not wearing seatbelts as well as a woman who was wearing her seatbelt. In such accidents where people are ejected in spite of wearing a seatbelt, it is important to look into whether there were any seatbelt defects.
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Rollover accidents can be extremely devastating for the occupants of a vehicle. Because of the intensity of a violent rollover, victims may suffer catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or even death. Sometimes, factors such as vehicle defects including tire defects, seatbelt defects, or seatback failure could cause or contribute to these injuries. That is why it is extremely important that these auto accident victims or their families consult an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer if they suspect auto product defects, roadway defects or negligence on the part of another driver.

A recent car crash in Yakima, Washington, shows how deadly a rollover accident can be. A 67-yar-old man was killed in Pasco after his car hit another driver’s SUV. According to a news report in the Yakima Herald-Republic, the crash occurred on the Interstate 182 in Pasco. Both drivers were westbound on the highway when the man’s Honda Accord clipped the rear of a Dodge Durango SUV. The impact of the crash caused the Honda to roll over and land on its top. Officials determined that the man was not wearing his seatbelt and believe that speed may have played a part in the crash as well.
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The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled in an auto products liability case against Hyundai Motor Co. that the auto maker withheld evidence in a lawsuit over flawed seat design and should pay $8 million to a man who was rendered paraplegic in a car accident as a result of that auto product defect. According to a Bloomberg news report, the state’s high court reversed an appellate court ruling and reinstated a trial court’s judgment. The Olympia, Washington court, in its 7-2 ruling stated that the Korean auto maker tried to undermine the discovery of evidence in the 9-year-old case.

One of the Supreme Court justices said he hoped the ruling in addition to appropriately compensating the victim will also send a strong message to Hyundai and other corporations, deterring them from involving themselves in such “deliberate and willful discovery abuse.” The victim in this case sued Hyundai in 2000, three years after he was injured as a passenger in a Hyundai hatchback that went off the road. The victim was ejected from the rear window and claimed that his injuries were partly caused by design flaws in the seat, which collapsed during the crash. In 2006, the trial court found that Hyundai officials had falsely responded to the victim’s request for internal documents and police reports relating to previous accidents. The court found that this impeded the victim’s preparation for trial and undermined this important evidence.
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A runaway dump truck hauling shards of broken concrete took motorists traveling down Madison Street, including the truck’s driver, by surprise when it crashed into a strip mall. However, the incident could have resulted in serious injury to a large number of people had the truck driver not intentionally crashed into a nearby building, thus bringing his vehicle to a halt and avoiding further reckless travel down the street. The truck did hit three cars in the process though, only one of which included a motorist that required medical attention. The dump truck driver was not injured.

According to the report, one man whose driver’s side of his car was clipped by the truck said that he saw the truck coming toward him at a high speed when he looked in his rear-view mirror. The man stated, “I could have been killed…it was unbelievable.”

Trucks serve multiple purposes and are required to dispose of waste and also transport commodities that our communities rely heavily on. Although we need trucks of all kinds to function on a daily basis, due to their great size and heavy loads, trucks can pose many dangers and hazards to other drivers on the road. Truck maintenance requires acute attention and, although it is not known at this time why the truck’s brakes failed in the above incident, defective auto parts are capable of causing serious truck accidents in Seattle that can result in catastrophic injuries.
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Kirk Bernard of the Bernard Law Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new website focusing on the legal arena of auto product liability law. The website, focuses on detailing the latest in auto product recall news, offering consumers information and advice on automobiles and automotive parts that have been deemed dangerous.

The Bernard Law Group hopes to share its substantial experience litigating these types of cases with the public for the purpose of educating and warning drivers throughout the state of Washington about the dangers of the automobiles they commute in daily. The group also hopes to reach out to those individuals who may have been injured due to a defective auto product and offer them an opportunity to not only share their story, but also pursue just compensation under the law.

The public has the right to expect that auto manufacturers will produce a safe product built with the highest quality materials available. A manufacturer is expected to stand behind its product, and the public should demand accountability from the manufacturer for injuries caused by the product. When automakers fall short of that goal and put profits ahead of the safety of their consumers, injured individuals have a right to seek restitution for their losses through the legal system.

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