When a car accident happens, the people involved could suffer various injuries depending on the nature of the accident. Some accidents leave car occupants with severe injuries not because the accident was grave but because of car defects such as a defective door latch. In that case, liability will fall on the car manufacturer. The state of California has laws in place that allow people who have been injured in such accidents to seek compensation for their losses.
Product liability lawsuits can be difficult to assert and win. However, the help of an experienced personal injury attorney can make a significant difference in your case. An attorney who understands the basics of such cases will help you gather the evidence you need to file a suit in court on time. These are some of the personal injury lawsuits we deal with at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. Therefore, if you or your loved one has sustained serious injuries due to a faulty door latch, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Product Liability Lawsuits in California
California product liability laws are there to help people who get injured because of a defective product to get compensated for their losses. According to these laws, any person who makes, designs, or deals with a faulty product will be responsible if the consumer of that product gets injured. It will still be so even if the company involved wasn’t negligent. Every type of product liability suit in California will require proof of different types of elements. Generally, for a product liability claim to be accepted in court, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following:
- That the allegedly responsible party was in charge of designing, manufacturing, selling or distributing the defective product
- That the product had a flaw when it left the at-fault party’s possession
- That the injured person correctly used the product it was required
- That the injured party suffered injuries as a consequence of the product’s defect
In the state of California, there are three acceptable types of product defects when a person is filing a product liability claim:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Warning defects, in cases where there were inadequate warnings about the product’s defect
To be held responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, the responsible party needs to have done something or failed in doing something, with recklessness, negligence, gross negligence or with intent to bring harm to another person. However, there are situations where a company can still be responsible for the injured person’s injuries, even if they did nothing wrong. This is what is referred to as strict liability in California product liability cases. According to this law, a person who designs, makes, or sells a defective product will be strictly responsible for any damages that result from the product if:
- The product was more dangerous than it should have been
- The product contained inadequate warnings
- The injured party used the product in the most reasonable way
Manufacturers are expected by law to anticipate how an average consumer can use and also misuse their products. If there is proof that the injured party abused the product, and as a result, they suffered injuries, the manufacturer may not be responsible for the damages the plaintiff sustained. However, if the consumer used the product just as the manufacturer had anticipated, but they still suffered injuries, the manufacturer will be strictly responsible for the resulting damages.
It is important to note that the most useful products for everyday consumption can be hazardous if misused. However, if the manufacturer was well aware of that, he/she should have taken reasonable safety measures to minimize the danger. Alternatively, he/she could have warned the consumers of the risks involved if they misused the product.
In product liability cases, the jury is left with the burden to prove whether or not the defendant took the necessary precautions or whether or not the plaintiff used the product reasonably. This is what helps determine the at-fault party and whether or not the plaintiff deserved compensation for their injuries.
Car Door Latch Defects & Lawsuits
A defective car door latch can lead to a more severe form of a car accident. In such an accident, a faulty car door latch will open immediately after the crash, throwing motorists out of their vehicle. Injuries in such accidents could be very severe. Other types of accidents involving faulty car door latches happen when a car’s door opens while the driver is speeding down a highway. Since this occurs when the driver is unprepared, he/she could be thrown out of the car or lose control of their vehicle, causing an even more severe accident on the highway.
Car safety standards have been strengthened in the state of California in recent years to protect car users from such incidents. However, accidents involving defective door latches still happen, and the resulting injuries are devastating. A defective car door latch can cause more severe injuries even in cases where the crash was just minor, and other passengers did not suffer any injuries.
Car defects account for many preventable injuries every year in the state of California. The good thing is that the law allows injured motorists and passengers to file a personal injury claim against car manufacturers who are responsible for the production and sale of defective vehicles to consumers. Because of the gravity of the damages that result from accidents involving defective door latches, plaintiffs can get more in settlements to cater to their medical expenses, long-term disabilities, pain and suffering, and other injuries and losses incurred.
After getting into a severe car accident, it is advisable to contact a personal injury attorney immediately. It gives the attorney enough time to investigate the accident. Depending on the findings of his/her investigation, your attorney can advise you to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. An experienced product liability personal injury attorney will be best to use in this case. Through his/her experience, you will be able to follow the right legal procedure and get everything ready by the given deadline.
Legal advice is also essential when you are filing a suit against a responsible party in a personal injury case. There are things that the plaintiff can do or fail to do that could hurt their case. With a competent attorney by your side, you can avoid making mistakes that could hurt your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Again, a competent personal injury attorney will know the kinds of experts to involve in investigating your claims. Expert reports can significantly help your case in court. An expert can help you determine the actual cause of the accident and whether or not the faulty door latch was the exact cause of the injuries you suffered in the accident.
Once the filing of the case in court happens, the court will expect your attorney wi to prove the following elements for the allegedly responsible party to be found at-fault:
- That their client’s car door latch failed during an accident
- That the car door latch did not meet the crashworthiness standards provided by NHTSA
- That the car door failed as a result of a malfunctioning or weak latch
- That the door’s failure was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s severe or fatal injuries
Common Injuries Resulting from Defective Car Door Latches
The severity of accidents involving faulty car door latches is manifested in the kinds of damages a person might suffer. Some of the common types of physical injuries in broken car door latch accidents include:
A person can get injured in any part of their body during a car accident. However, injuries involving the spine are more severe. They are the kinds of injuries that are experienced in most serious car crashes. When a person is thrown out of a moving car, they can land on the hard surface, another vehicle, or any hard object. The impact can be very hard and could result in damage to the spine. There are various types of spine injuries that a person can suffer as a result of a faulty car door latch:
- Whiplash Injuries — This is the most frequently experienced spinal injury in car accidents.
Contrary to the belief of many people that it is a neck injury, most whiplash injuries affect the spine as well. Victims who suffer multiple injuries to the spine suffer more complications from whiplash injuries. Whiplash injuries can cause lifetime pain and emotional distress for the accident victim.
- Spinal Fractures — During a car accident, the victim’s body could be quickly jerked in one direction, then the other. When the car door suddenly opens, the body can experience a lot of pressure during the time it is forcefully ejected out of the car. This high amount of pressure could cause a compression fracture of the spine. Symptoms for this injury could include numbness and pain in certain parts of the body. Sometimes the person could experience bladder control issues. This kind of injury requires various forms of treatment, including physical therapy, surgery, and lots of rest.
- Spinal Cord Injuries — Injuries to the spinal cord are the most devastating of all spine injuries a person can suffer in a car accident. Although the spine could be repaired, there is nothing much that could be done to the nerves that it protects. In that case, the only hope that victims are left with is that their injuries will be less severe. The unfortunate bit is that most injuries to the spinal cord are severe and irreversible. The person may be left with the need for more support, assistance, and treatment for the rest of their life.
Paralysis could occur when the spinal cord suffers significant damage in a car accident. When that happens, a muscle or group of muscles in the affected part of the body could lose its function. Eventually, victims who have suffered the accident lose sensation and feeling on the affected areas. When a person is thrown out of a moving vehicle, the impact through which they land could severely damage a nerve in their spinal cord.
The nerve, which is usually inside the spinal column, is the one that controls all the muscles found in the entire body. Nerves on the cervical spine control the functioning in the upper part of the human body while those in the lumbar spine control the functioning of muscles in the lower body. For that reason, paralysis could occur either on the upper or lower parts of the body, depending on the part of the body that has suffered injuries in the accident.
- Paralysis is categorized into four parts, namely:
- Monoplegia — This occurs when only one limp suffers paralysis
- Hemiplegia — this happens when the leg and arm on one side of the body suffers paralysis
- Paraplegia — It occurs when both legs and some parts of the lower body including the pelvis suffer paralysis
- Tetraplegia — It happens when both the legs and arms suffer paralysis. The condition is also known as quadriplegia
Fractures and Broken Bones
Fractures are prevalent in most types of car accidents. In accidents where a person is thrown out of a car or thrown against an object or debris, the force and power exerted on their body is enough to cause severe fractures. These types of injuries are painful and expensive to treat, and the healing process can be lengthy. Some broken bones require extensive surgical intervention to heal well. These can limit the person’s ability to work and perform other duties they enjoy until they recover fully.
In faulty car door latch accidents, a person could fall or be thrown off a car, which is the leading cause of severe fractures in most car accidents. There are various forms of fractures that a person can suffer in such an accident. Each of these injuries requires a unique form of treatment, depending on the type and location of the damage. Some of the fractures a person is likely to suffer in a car accident include:
- Fibula/tibia fracture, which involves broken legs
- Femur fracture: Even though the femur is the strongest bone in the body, it could fracture in case of a high-impact crash
- Rib fractures: The seatbelt or airbag could cause these
- Hip fractures: This is the most common fracture in car accidents
- Pelvis fracture
- Skull/facial fracture: it is the scariest injury a person could suffer especially after sustaining a hard fall
- Wrist fractures: being the most fragile bones in the body, they can easily fracture after a hard fall
Internal injuries are some of the most severe injuries a person can sustain in a car accident. If they are not treated immediately, the injured can suffer complications that could lead to death. Internal injuries come with a lot of pain and could cost a lot of money for a person to recover fully. The most common types of internal injuries you can suffer in a car accident involving a faulty car door latch include:
Bleeding brain — This can result from either an open or closed wound in the head. The bleeding prevents oxygen from reaching essential areas of the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage.
Broken ribs — It results from the impact of a fall or a crash after an accident. Broken ribs require immediate treatment before they can impact other parts of the body, as they can cause damage to the blood vessels and other organs.
Internal bleeding — A car crash can cause trauma to the blood vessels within a person’s body, causing them to fail to repair themselves or to clot. It can result in internal bleeding.
Injured organs — A severe car crash could damage many internal organs. Once an organ is damaged, it could result in internal bleeding and after that organ failure. Some severe accidents could, for instance, cause kidney damage or liver lacerations. Such injuries require immediate treatment as they can result in long-term suffering and sometimes are fatal.
Death of a family member or loved one
The most painful injury in a car accident is the loss of a loved one. Serious car accidents such as those that occur due to a faulty car door latch can easily cause the death of a motorist or passenger. When that happens, California laws allow the family of the departed to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
Compensatory Damages in Lawsuits Involving Defective car Door Latches
When filing for compensation after suffering a car accident, your attorney will help you come up with a list of damages you have suffered as a result of that accident. Compensatory damages vary greatly, from one accident to the other. The most common injuries a person could include in their claim for a defective car door latch accident include:
Medical expenses — These will consist of all the expenses the injured person has incurred from the day of the accident to the time they are filing for compensation. Costs could be more or less, depending on the severity of your injuries
Lost income and wages — These accounts for the amount of money the injured person has not earned for the period they were in hospital seeking treatment or recovering at home. The earning ability of the person will be considered, and then multiplied by the days or weeks, they were out of employment.
Suffering and pain — Even though it is not easy to put a monetary value on a person’s pain or suffering, this is among the compensatory damages a person is allowed to file a claim for after an accident. As mentioned above, car accidents involving defective door latches can be devastating, which means more suffering and pain. Your attorney will help you figure out just how much you deserve for the amount of suffering and pain you went through after the accident.
Future medical expenses — This involves injuries that will take some time to heal completely. If, for instance, you suffered a catastrophic injury that requires long-term medical attention and care, it should be part of your claim. Some people suffer injuries that will require them to undergo physical therapy for the rest of their life.
Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit in California
Personal injury claims involving defective car door latches in California are pursued through product liability lawsuits. If there is proof that the car door was unreasonably dangerous and has caused a person harm, the person is eligible for compensation. The evaluation of most of these lawsuits is under the state’s strict liability laws.
Victims of car accidents involving faulty door latches are entitled to receive both compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages give the victim back all that they have lost in the accident. As mentioned above, the value of the claim, in this case, will be equal to the extent of injuries suffered by the victim.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded by the court as a way to punish the liable party for the mistake that caused the victim injuries. They are also a way to warn other people against committing the same mistake in the future.
The first thing you need to do once you decide to pursue compensation for your injuries is to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will help you investigate your claims, plan for the lawsuit, and also represent you in court when the date of trial comes.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Defective car door latches are a significant threat to many car users in the state of California. Even after a minor crash, a person can sustain severe injuries or also lose their lives if their car door opens, and they fall off a moving vehicle. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we have a vast experience in handling lawsuits involving faulty door latches and could help with your case. Therefore, if you are planning to file a claim against the party responsible for your injuries, call us at 714-876-1959. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.