You’re probably like many of the millions of Americans that use their vehicle daily for many different things. Whether it being used to go to work, or take your children to an after school activity, or to get daily tasks done, business and fun, and you rely heavily on your vehicle.
When you first purchased your vehicle, other than type, color, gas mileage, etc…, one of the top concerns for you was “is this vehicle safe"? You might not know it, and most don’t realize it, but Trial Lawyers play a very large role in keeping the vehicles that are on today’s roads safer then they have ever been before.
Trial Lawyers are always thinking of the “consumer" first, especially when helping to keep auto manufacturers true to their safety standards. Many people are made to believe that Trial Lawyers think of themselves first. I can assure you, after representing many families who have been devastated by the injuries or the loss of loved ones, that is absolutely untrue.
Here are just a few items Trial Lawyers and Injury Lawyers in Phoenix have accomplished, either through litigation or the promise of such, to help keep you and your family safe:
1. Gas Tanks: Manufacturers like GM and Ford designed defective gas tank placement, which resulted in fires and explosions, even in very minor collisions. Indeed, Ford knew of the potential for this when it designed and sold the Ford Pinto back in the 1970s, but made the decision to market it anyway to “save money", as opposed to a recall—to make the car safer. The amount of catastrophic injuries and deaths this caused over the years is unknown. As a result of litigation, gas tanks are now universally located within rigid frames, providing far better protection for you and your family.
2. Door Latches: Ford’s own engineers identified the problem with its “paddle style" handles, which allowed the doors to accidentally open when collisions occurred. But rather than fix the design, Ford covered up the problem, and the accidents and injuries occurred many times over. Ford ultimately decided to go back to the drawing board and change the design—-after they were held accountable in court.
3. Electronic Stability Control: The growing popularity of SUV’s brought to light the stability problems that certain models were having. Ford’s Explorer, build on the already troublesome Bronco II frame, experienced rollover rates more than twice that of other SUVs. You guessed it—Ford did nothing, until they were found liable for it in court. As a result, increased emphasis has been placed the development and implementation of Electronic Stability Control.
4. Air Bags: Auto Manufacturers have been developing air bag technology since the early 1950s. Yet these manufacturers were extremely slow in having them installed in vehicles. By 1988 only two percent of new cars came equipped with air bags. Courts found that manufacturers knew full well their cars were safer with air bags and that many lives could have been saved. They had the technology. They just decided to save the cost of installation. Eventually, as a result of many lawsuits, manufacturers were forced to install airbags in all cars.
5. Tires: Tire manufacturers from Firestone to Goodyear tried to cover up problems with their defective tires, and as a result over the years have been held accountable for millions of dollars in injury and death claims in court. Firestone’s defective tires alone caused 271 deaths, and the resulting litigation brought tires and their manufacturers under increased scrutiny.
6. Seats: Safety engineers call weakened seats the “most egregious, widespread defect to be found". Weak seats can collapse in even low speed impacts and kill rear passengers. Without adequate regulatory standards, only court cases were able to expose manufacturer’s negligence–forcing them to install stronger seats in all cars.
7. Seat belts: Court cases went a long way in highlighting the dangers of inferior seat belts, or no seat belts at all. One example was Chrysler’s defective generation 3 seat belt. Installed in more than 14 million cars and proven to unlatch when accidents occurred, Chrysler chose to take it’s chances on the cheaper mechanism, rather than protect its users. Lawsuits? You bet. Both the seat belts and the seats themselves were redesigned in response to litigation.
8. Roof Crush: Vehicle manufacturers, particularly makers of SUVs, had long known that “roof strength" was a critical weakness during rollovers. SUVs were a new breed of vehicles, and better engineering and designs were needed from the start. Without adequate regulatory standards, it was litigation only that forced manufacturer’s to being strengthening their roofs.
Every single day, Arizona Trial Lawyers are brought into new cases that can affect not only you but your loved ones in any facet in life. Trial Lawyers not only make sure that your family stays safe with consumer goods, but most importantly, make sure the companies that are creating these goods are following the standards that have been put into place to keep you and loved ones safe.
Even more-so, Trial Lawyers and the “promise" of litigation are the only tool available to keep manufacturer vehicles—and ALL products for that matter, on their best design and manufacturing behavior. Absent accountability in the civil justice system, there would be no compulsion at all for these manufacturers, nor anyone, to design, market and sell safe products. Think about if. If we could not hold wrongdoers accountable, do you think that most people would care about the safety of their products? Hardly. They would care about profits only.
The laws of the United States, with the mechanisms to enforce the safety rules (laws), are the best in the world. The Trial Lawyers are the gatekeepers, those who fight everyday in our courts for the safety of individuals and families. Next time you start your car, and it doesn’t catch on fire, or lose a tire going down the street, or the windshield shatter when an errant rock hits it, think about that. Chances are that all of these things (and many others) occurred at one point in time, and were brought to the attention of the manufacturers, and ultimately corrected, through litigation.
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