If a car crash happens, a faulty door latch could mean the difference between life and death for passengers or a driver. If a door latch is defective, it may open in case of an accident and may lead to a car occupant being thrown out of the auto vehicle. Or, the faulty door latch might fail to open in case of a collision or malfunction underwater in case the car gets submerged, thereby preventing auto occupants from exiting the automobile for their safety. When an accident happens, and you sustain injuries due to a defective door latch, you ought to seek compensation from the negligent party.

At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we handle all kinds of car accident personal injury cases that involve defective door latches, doors, tailgates, and windows. We know that one faulty part in an automobile may result in catastrophic injuries and even death if an accident takes place. Or, that defective vehicle part could cause a crash. When you speak with a personal injury lawyer at our law firm, we’ll take our time to address your concerns, evaluate the incident, and then determine ways to assist you. It’s our objective to provide you with the legal guidance and support you deserve so you may face a promising future. In this article, we look at personal injury claims for defective car door latch cases.

Defective Car Door Latch Overview

One of the leading dangerous kinds of auto crashes happens when an accident causes a faulty door latch to open, and motorists or passengers get ejected from the motor vehicle resulting in severe injuries. In recent times, standards of vehicle safety have been strengthened to protect auto users from incidents like this. However, cases of faulty door latch crashes continue to rise in California and all over the country.

Auto flaws account for tens of thousands of avoidable injuries every year. Injured passengers and drivers can file injury lawsuits against car manufacturers and any other parties that are liable for manufacturing and selling faulty automobiles to consumers. Settling a door latch flaw lawsuit may see the victim get compensated for the injuries, damages, and losses he/she went through, as we shall see later in our discussion.

For many years, the safety of occupants of SUVs, vans, and cars has been negatively affected by the defects of door latches. As of the year to 1996, General Motors was a target of product liability attorneys, personal injury lawyers, and car crash victims who claimed faulty door latch problems were the direct cause of severe injuries.

In recent times, Ford Motor Company has been the center of the debate about door latch flaws, and lawyers claim that the failure to design or manufacture secure door latches correctly has placed consumers in great danger. Between the years 2015 and 2017, Ford was compelled to recall one of the most popular autos in the United States, namely the Ford F-150, to correct a fault that could lead to doors opening while driving. Other vehicles that were recalled include:

  • 2005 Ford Five Hundreds
  • 2005-2006 Ford Freestyles
  • Mercury Montego
  • 2000 Ford F-150 Super Crew trucks
  • 2013 Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs
  • 1997-2000 Ford Expeditions
  • 1997-2000 Ford F-150 trucks
  • Certain 2012-2014 Ford Fiestas
  • 1997-2000 Ford F-250 Super Light Duty trucks

Crashworthiness and Negligence

Since crashworthiness rules for car door locks and door retention components were implemented in the 1970s, vehicle manufacturers are obligated to put door latches on their autos that can withstand an inertial load of 30 G’s during an accident. Anyone injured because of a faulty door latch can seek compensation for the losses they sustain.

Car door latches may fail due to:

  • The defective design of the door latch
  • Technological or mechanical issues hinder the proper operation of the door latch
  • Improper door latch installation
  • Failure in the remote rod. A remote rod refers to the device connecting the handle of a car door and the latch. Remote rods may fail during a vehicle crash leading to the opening of the car door
  • Manufacturing faults
  • Insufficient direction for safe use
  • Inadequate warning for consumers

Types of Auto Door Failures and Defects

The flaws that could lead to car doors malfunctioning come in different forms. These include but not limited to issues with the:

  • Door hatch or structure- The hatch or structure of a car door protects the internal mechanisms that aid in the proper functioning of the door. If the hatch or structure is poorly designed or is in itself weak, it is most likely that remote rods, locks, latches, and other door components will be damaged. If this happens, it can elevate the danger of car door failure and malfunctions.
  • Remote rods- A remote rod connects a door handle to the door latch. Defects associated with remote rods may include twisted, distorted, or broken rods. These defects may prevent passengers from being capable of opening or closing vehicle doors.
  • Locks or latches- Both locks and latches keep car doors shut when they’re closed or allow them to open when passengers pull the handle of the door. Car door lock and latch defects could include jammed or sticky locks or latches, failure to stay locked or connected, and failure to disengage.
  • Door handles- A car door handle permits a passenger to regulate the function and position of the door at any time. Defects associated with door handles may lead to them breaking or malfunctioning, preventing passengers from being capable of controlling the door.

When these door defects hinder passengers from being capable of controlling the function and position of doors, hazardous situations may arise. These include:

  • Passengers getting trapped in autos, incapable of opening doors. It could be challenging to remove the occupants that are trapped in vehicles.
  • Doors flying open when an automobile is in motion or after experiencing the impact from an accident
  • Passengers getting ejected from autos. Three in four occupants that get thrown out from a car during a crash sustain fatal injuries.

Our lawyers work with accident reconstruction experts, medical specialists, engineers, and other applicable professionals in investigating cases of door latch faults. We can assist you in proving the vital elements of your case, including liability, negligence, and cause. The liable party should take responsibility for your injuries, damages, and losses, and not you.

Car Door Latch Injuries

The injuries that arise from crashes resulting from car defects like door failure and faulty latches have become common. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reported that over 8000 people countywide get ejected from automobiles through the open doors that come about because of broken latches every year.  The injuries that arise due to these types of accidents may range from slight to severe. Generally, these injuries include:

  • Head injuries
  • Road rash (severe) abrasions
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries that may lead to paralysis
  • Neck injuries
  • Lacerations

Door Latch Flaws and Lawsuits

As per the NHTSA, a roadway fatality is twenty-three times more possible if a driver/passenger is ejected from an auto after or during a collision.

With defective door latches, injuries will most likely be deadly if vehicle occupants are thrown out of it during a crash. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney lawyers work to hold auto manufacturers liable for failing to make secure car doors as well as door latches. The components that make up a vehicle ought to be capable of safely withstanding given amounts of impact and force to protect vehicle occupants.

Design flaws and careless manufacturing of car door latches may result in passengers being ejected from an auto, or they can get trapped in burning cars after an accident. When manufacturers don’t sell safe and reliable automobiles and fail to adhere to provided safety standards, they could be held accountable for injuries and damages suffered in case of a car collision.

Our firm has experience bringing injury claims against auto companies that fail in protecting their consumers. If you aspire to build a stronger case against the liable party, you should preserve all proof that relates to the defective door latch and the injuries you sustained. The evidence includes photos of the scene of the accident, witness testimonies, the police report, etc.

Bringing a Claim for Defective Door Latches

Under the product liability and personal injury laws of California, an injury victim has a right to hold liable parties responsible for avoidable and dangerous manufacturing or design flaws. However, the victim should first be capable of proving the negligence of the responsible party for him/her to be compensated.

By proving that the door latch was unreasonably dangerous in particular aspects of its manufacture, marketing, or design, and the flaw directly led to your injuries, even if the latch was used correctly, you might qualify for compensation.

When it comes to a defective door latch lawsuit, the most known argument is the latch had design flaws. For instance, a faulty door latch might release and force the door to open when it gets hit in a particular manner, throwing occupants from the moving automobile and subjecting them to disastrous injury risks. Should a door latch happen to jam, passengers may be incapable of escaping from auto fires as well as other hazards from the impact, turning a slight crash into a deadly one.

Liability in Car Door Defect Accidents

In many cases, the vehicle manufacturer may be held accountable for injuries that vehicle occupants sustain resulting from a faulty door latch. For example, if there’s a flaw with the latch’s design that subjects it to malfunctioning, the automaker may be held responsible under the product liability and personal injury laws due to their negligence. Another common flaw is whereby manufacturers use inferior materials in constructing the door latch, making it hazardous in case of a crash.

In other situations, the person that has repaired a door latch and other latch mechanisms can be held accountable if a faulty car repair that he/she performed led to injuries to a vehicle occupant. An example is whereby a mechanic or any vehicle expert negligently uses the wrong components in repairing a door latch. When this happens, the mechanic may be held responsible, particularly in situations where he/she was aware or should have been informed that their repairing was faulty in a given way. 

Other parties that can be held liable in a defective door latch accident case include:

  • The manufacturers of vehicle equipment
  • Vehicle engineers
  • Safety test companies or consultants

Compensation for Defective Car Door Latch Injuries

Victims of collisions that involve faulty door latches are eligible for receiving both compensatory and punitive damages. When it comes to compensatory damages, you may be awarded payment for crash-related expenses like the following:

  • Lost income- After you have been in an accident, you may take several days off work to nurse your injuries or as per your doctor’s recommendations. All the days you will miss going to work means you will lose your income as well. This entitles you to compensation for the wages you will lose for the total number of days you will be undergoing medical treatment.
  • Medical costs- When you sustain injuries in a crash, they will cost you money for treatment. When a collision involving faulty door latches takes place, you qualify to seek compensation for all your medical expenses. Medical costs include bills for ER, any medical equipment, medical procedures conducted, like surgery, costs for medication, etc.
  • Loss of future earning capacity- Following a defective car door latch accident, you can sustain substantial injuries that may render you incapable of making a living any more. For example, if you sustain injuries that lead to paralysis like a TBI, it may lead to you being incapable of working again. If this happens to you, a calculation ought to be made to determine the amount of income you would have earned were it not for the injuries you suffered. You will then receive compensation for your inability to work and earn a living ever again.
  • Loss of limbs, disfigurement, and scarring- You can lose your leg or hand because of an accident. This might require you to be fitted with prosthetic limbs. Consequently, you ought to be compensated as a reward for your lost part of the body. Also, your face may get disfigured due to the accident when you suffer from lost teeth. This may need you to go through reconstructive surgical and dental surgical procedures to restore your look. You should also be compensated for the costs of all these procedures if your personal injury claim is successful.
  • Pain and suffering- Injuries may lead to you suffering substantial pain from the inflicted wounds. Even though the pain and suffering you undergo can’t be quantified, the extent of your injuries will determine the amount of compensation you ought to be awarded.
  • Compensation for wrongful death- When a car door flies open, an occupant can be ejected from the auto, and following the high force with the hard surface of the road, he/she may pass away. The victim’s family can seek to recover damages for the untimely death of their loved one. Compensation for wrongful death includes funeral expenses, burial costs, medical costs from when the victim was hospitalized to his/her death, loss of consortium, loss of financial support, lost wages, etc.

Other compensatory damages you may receive following a defective car door latch accident include:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Cost of property repair or replacement
  • Disability
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconveniences

The worth of your claim usually depends on the extent and severity of the injuries inflicted on you.

You may also be awarded punitive damages in case of a defective car door latch accident. This kind of compensation is granted to punish the responsible party as well as to discourage other individuals from committing the same negligent acts.

For you to pursue a compensation claim from an accident that involves a faulty door latch, we advise that you consult with a lawyer that specializes in personal injury and product liability laws.  The attorney will assess your case and decide on the legal cause of action you can take.

Find a Defective Car Door Latch Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If a faulty door latch causes you or the person you love to suffer injuries, losses, plus other damages in a crash, we highly recommend that you seek help from a personal injury attorney for legal counsel. If you have no legal representation, it may be challenging for you when pursuing recovery. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we help any injured client in Los Angeles, California get their deserved compensation to pay for their medical costs and any other expenses.  After you reach out to us, we will discuss with you the particulars of your case in a non-expensed consultation. Call us at 424-231-2013 if you need to claim damages, and we will inform you precisely where you stand. We will also advise on what steps you can take to get better compensation that will help you get back on your feet.