Auto Accidents

Motor Vehicle Defects

This portion of our website reviews crash worthiness, tire blowout cases, defective tire cases, SUV Rollovers; electronic stability control cases, and fuel tank fire cases. These different types of motor vehicles defects and issues which include crashworthiness, rollovers, fuel tank fire cases and ESC cases can be deadly. Call our Law Firm day or night at 1.800.862.1260 for more information.

Toyota Recall Tire Blowout and Defective Tires
SUV Rollovers Fuel Tank Fire Cases

If you have suffered a loss, you need to consider the following:

SECURE THE EVIDENCE - SECURE THE PROOF

Is your car wreck case a potential products liability case? Unless you take the steps outlined below, you may never know. While liability and/or responsibility against the other driver may be obvious, you need to remember to follow these basic steps to gather and preserve the evidence necessary to evaluate whether an automaker or auto component part or tire contributed to the cause of the loss.

SECURE THE VEHICLE(S)

In securing the evidence necessary to pursue a products liability claim, time is of the essence. With very limited exceptions, it is extremely difficult to pursue a defective products claim without the product itself. Oftentimes, insurance companies may “salvage” or “scrap” an automobile they insure when it has been involved in an incident. Additionally some vehicle and component part manufacturers have “ first response” teams, employing “ investigators” to gather evidence of incidents reported on television, on the radio, or in the newspaper. Regardless of the reason, it is not unheard of for tires, tire treads, airbags, black boxes, seatbelts, or the vehicles themselves to disappear from storage or tow lots overnight. Call our Law Firm, if we determine a product case is a possibility, we will secure the car at once. Call us day or night at 1.800.862.1260.

A. Dealing with Adjusters

One of the first thing any lawyer investigating a potential automobile products liability claim should do, when he or she suspects a product liability claim is send the insurance company and the responsible adjuster a “preservation” letter. One should be sure to state in any such letter that the subject vehicle ( and tire/tread, if applicable) is crucial evidence of a potential products liability claim, and that no part of the vehicle should be altered, removed, or destroyed.

B. Temporary Restraining Order

If you suspect a product failure for causing the loss, lock down the evidence. If you need our help call us day or night at 1.800.862.1260. There are two critical aspects that should be addressed when drafting an application and order. First, draft the application and order to preclude any potential person or party that might foreseeably seek possession or access to the subject vehicle from doing so, and include any parties currently in possession, in custody or control of the subject vehicle. Second, it is equally important to specify the scope of restraint sought in the application and order.Again, it is important to remember that if you take possession of the vehicle, it should be stored in a secure, limited access, climate controlled facility.

PROCEDURE EVIDENCE FROM THE SCENE

While it is nearly impossible to pursue an automobile products liability claim without the original defective product, it is equally important to react quickly in securing the evidence present at an incident scene. If you need our help call our team of lawyers day or night at 1.800.862.1260.

A. Visit the Scene

While they may not secure the vehicle involved in the incident, most investigating law enforcement agencies usually take the necessary steps to record the incident evidence as it existed at the scene at the time of their arrival. In documenting a major incident scene, officers will likely photograph the scene, briefly inspect the subject vehicles, interview eyewitnesses to the incident and measure and document all evidence they believe to be associated with the incident. It is important to remember, however, that law enforcement agencies investigate incident scenes with an eye toward possible criminal violations, not toward a civil lawsuit. Also, law enforcement officials are limited in their training and in resources available to complete a thorough evaluation of an incident scene. Thus, when such a loss occurs it is important to pay an immediate visit to the incident scene, whether it is your attorney or an investigator trained in documenting evidence for automobile products liability lawsuits. If you need our Law Firm on your side call us at 1.800.862.1260.

B. F.O.I.A. “Packet”

The Freedom of Information Act can serve as an informative preliminary tool when investigating an incident. The act requires no more than a written request, and can be completed in a matter of minutes. The F.O.I.A., can provide valuable information from all investigating and/or responding governmental agencies.If you need our Law Firm on your side call us at 1.800.862.1260.

C. Interview and Affidavits

The vehicle is secure. The incident scene is well documented. The initial written documentation is procured. THERE IS STILL MORE TO DO! As time fades, so do memories. Some officers that investigate traffic incidents do so at the rate of up to 25 incidents per week. Think the officers, tow truck drivers, and EMTs remember any particular case that resulted in your client becoming a a quadriplegic? Think again. In many instances, officers are not required to perform a standard “accident investigation” unless a fatality is involved, department policy does not require an in-depth “investigation,” much less a formal “reconstruction.” As a result, officers, eyewitnesses should be interviewed, and in some instances be asked to sign affidavits. If you need our Law Firm on your side call us at 1.800.862.1260.

RESEARCH THE INCIDENT FACTS

While much of the information discussed in this section outlined above, it is nonetheless crucial to make sure that the information listed below is obtained and carefully considered in evaluating a potential case:

A. Alcohol/Drug Use

It is obvious why discovering the existence of alcohol or drug use is crucial in evaluating any potential legal claim, especially an automobile products claim. It is important to determine whether any substance issues are involved, as the specific levels of alcohol/drug use. In considering potential third- party issues, it is also important to determine the level of alcohol/drug use of all drivers of all vehicles involved in an incident. Depending on the type of defect that you are investigating, evidence of seatbelt use can be a determinative factor in deciding whether to pursue a defective products case. The best sources of evidence regarding seatbelt use are (1) witness statements; (2) medical records, autopsies, and related photographs; (3) physical evidence on the restraint system, including load marks, stretched webbing, web grabber markers marks/indentions, transfer marks, ripped stitching, and cut belts; (4) witness marks; and(5) police reports. If you need our Law Firm on your side call us at 1.800.862.1260.

B. Seating Positions and Vehicle Loading

It is crucial to know the seating position of all occupants present in an incident vehicle. Such information is extremely helpful when contemplating the occupant kine- matics and injury causation in a potential defective products case. Loading is another issue that should be addressed, especially in SUV rollover cases. While these vehicles are advertised and marketed as cargo vehicles, it should be noted that increased weight in these vehicles ( and on top, such as on luggage racks ) raises their center of gravity, and will be relied upon heavily by defense lawyers in defending their product. If you need our Law Firm on your side call us at 1.800.862.1260.

RESEARCH THE PRODUCT INVOLVED

If you know what happened to the vehicle at the time of the incident. Next, you need to gather some basic information to help determine why the incident happened or why the producted failed.

A. Vehicle Specific Information

While information such as make, model, and year of an incident vehicle have likely been obtained during steps I and II, specific information such as vehicle identification number (V.I.N.- can be located (1) inside the driver’s door jam;(2) on the placard just inside the front windshield on the dashboard on the driver’s side; and (3) in the police report), the names of component part manufacturers ( often stamped into the component part itself) and, with respect to tires, the D.O.T. and serial number can help in your initial evaluation of a potential product defect claim.

B. Product Defect

Oftentimes, the potential defect in an automobile or its component part is obvious. Other times, it is necessary to research the potential existence of a defect that may have caused an incident, or contributed to the injuries suffered as a result.

DETERMINE THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF INJURIES

Was someone burned as a result of a defect, was someones injuries worse because the vehicle failed or a tire failed. What are the injuries? If injuries or death occurred call us day or night we can help.

A. Medical Records

While it is not usually crucial to have the full scope of medical records when evaluating a potential products liability claim, it is crucial to have an initial medical packet. Such packet should include the following:

  1. EMS and Care Flight/ Life Flight Records;
  2. Admissions reports, progress reports, radiology reports, and discharge reports from the first few weeks of hospital time; and
  3. Films and x-rays(not always crucial, especially if radiology reports are obtained, but certainly helpful).

B. Death -Related Records

When evaluating a potential products liability claim, it is the specific cause of his /her death that is most important in investigating a potential cause of action. Thus, in cases involving the death of a passenger, it is important to obtain the following items:

  1. Autopsy report;
  2. Autopsy photographs;
  3. Death certificate; and
  4. Funeral home and cemetery records (not crucial, but often helpful, especially in those instances where an autopsy was not performed).
TYPES OF AUTOMOTIVE DEFECTS

There are many categories of automotive defects, and the landscape is constantly changing. The list that follows is by no means exhaustive. It does, however, contain many of the most common automotive defects:

  1. Stability and handling
    1. Handling defects
    2. Rollover propensity
    3. Brake failure
    4. Power steering failure
    5. Wheel and axle failure
    6. Non- ESC( Electronic Stability Control) cases
    7. Trailer sway/ no sway control bar
  2. Crashworthiness
    1. Occupants injured on interior
    2. Roof crush
    3. Lack of head restraints
    4. Seat design
    5. Non- laminated glass cases
  3. Restraint system failure
    1. Inertial seatbelt unlatching
    2. Seatbelt inadvertent release
    3. Seatbelt spool- out/retractor cases
    4. Seatback failure
    5. Airbag failure
    6. “Aggressive airbag” cases
    7. Child car seat cases
  4. Fiire Cases
    1. Post-collision fuel- fed fires
    2. Fuel tank design
    3. Anti-siphoning cases
    4. Spontaneous engine and fuel system fires
  5. Door and liftgate latch failures
  6. Tire tread separation
  7. Park- to- reverse case
  8. Brake- shift interlock cases
  9. Power window child injuries
  10. 15 passenger Van Losses

Our Law Firm has seen over the years that defective products case can be overlooked in a motor vehicle crash unless you know what to look for and how to detect a potential claim or a potential defect. Such cases can be missed unless an experienced injury lawyer and qualified investigators and product experts are involved early on after a motor vehicle crash. Many times a crash is blamed on driver error. Sometimes products liability claims are never investigated. It is our Law Firm's experience that any highway crash that involves a death or a serious injury should be investigated and reviewed as a potential crashworthiness claim or product defect claim.

There are many types of products liability cases involving a motor vehicle. Any time a crash involves a roll over or a tire separates, an investigation should include the possibility of a products defect. If a vehcile bursts into flames or the vehicle in involved in a fuel-fed fire, such an investigation should occur. If there is a failure of a seat belt to restrain an occupant in either the front or back seats of the vehicle or the seat itesef fails then an investigation of that product should occur. If an air bag wrongly deploys or fails to deploy and investigation should occur. If there is a roof crush, an investigation should occur. If the vehicle has roof structure design and/or construction issues, an investigation is needed. If the vehicle crumples or fails to protect the occupant in the accident causing more injuries, an investigation into a possible crashworthiness case should occur.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident call us day or night at 1.800.862.1260.

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