Vehicle ejection accidents are the most likely types of vehicle crashes to result in catastrophic injury or to cause a wrongful death. One of the most common causes of a vehicle ejection in a collision is a defective door latch mechanism.
Because vehicle manufacturers consider doors as a fundamental part of the overall structural strength of a vehicle, they should construct vehicle doors with the ability to withstand a typical vehicle crash. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Many vehicles on the road are not equipped with auto-lock devices, which means that vehicle occupants must engage the lock manually. Vehicle manufacturers often fail to adequately warn that if the locks are not engaged that the doors may open during an auto collision, resulting in vehicle occupants being ejected. A car accident is three times more likely to result in a fatality when an occupant is ejected during the collision.
Established standards within the motor vehicle manufacturing industry require that door latches be constructed with sufficient strength to maintain their integrity under certain levels of force, but there is no crash test requirement to determine that door latches meet this requirement. This lack of standardized industry testing means that it is virtually impossible to be certain that door latches are sufficient to withstand the force of a motor vehicle collision. Our law firm represents drivers in all types of vehicles. Defective door latches and unsafe vehicle doors can turn a relatively minor accident into a fatal collision.
One common door latch defect involves the remote rod, which is the link between the door handle and the latch. The rod can bend under the force of the impact from an auto collision causing the door to fly open in a car accident. Tension-type rods are especially dangerous and can be easily replaced with a safer compression-type linkage. The design and strength of the door also plays a significant role in protecting the rod from bending during an accident. The safest design for vehicle doors involves doors having more than a single retention point.
Defective door latches can turn a serious collision into a catastrophic one. It is often cheaper for the manufacturers to settle car accident claims than it is to issue a recall for defective door latches. For example, Ford manufactured a number of vehicles including the F-150, F-250, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator that were equipped with defective door latches between 1997-2000. These door handles reportedly lacked the ability to withstand minimum federal safety requirements. A defective door latch recall was scheduled to begin March 2000, and plans were made to increase the torque of the latch springs. Unfortunately, Ford decided a month later not to follow through on the recall of the defective door latch when a Ford engineer determined that the latching mechanism could meet an alternative test that required the door handle to withstand only a brief pulse of pressure rather than prolonged force.
When motor vehicle manufacturers put profit above safety, the results can be tragic. Our law firm is committed to holding automakers responsible for decisions that create an unreasonable risk to their customers. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, represents those involved in Georgia and Atlanta auto accidents resulting from vehicle ejections caused by defect door latches and other vehicle defects. If you or a loved one has been involved in an Atlanta car accident that may have been caused by a automobile defect, our Atlanta defective car door latch attorneys have been representing Georgia car crash victims for over 39 years.