Thursday, July 23, 2009

Automobile Defect/Crashworthiness- Jaime has extensive experience in the field of Automobile Defect/Crashworthiness cases. He has helped obtain several multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts in jurisdictions throughout the State and Nation, including the largest ever personal injury jury verdict in Lancaster County. These cases are highly complex, labor intensive and require the utmost attention to detail and preparation to prosecute. Due to his vast experience in this field he has access to documents, resources and experts in the field necessary to serve his clients. He has the knowledge, experience and desire to bring a successful conclusion to your case. BUT WHAT ARE CRASHWORTHINESS CASES? These cases are often very difficult to identify as often it appears that the injuries are due to the accident. In fact, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed each year because of defects in automobiles, but, most of these cases go unidentified and are never pursued. Through experience Jaime is able to identify potential claims and investigate to determine if a client’s injuries are due to a defect; therefore, any accident that involves a serious injury or death should be carefully reviewed for possible auto products liability defects. These cases are commonly known as an enhanced injury or crashworthiness cases - in other words, the defect causes injuries to be worse then they should have been. Auto manufacturers have the research and technology to design cars that will perform in such a way that the occupants should not be severely injured or killed if they are properly restrained. Common characteristics to look for, in order to identify auto product liability cases, include the following…
Multiple occupants in a collision- one catastrophically or fatally injured while others have only minor injuries;
Minor accidents resulting in catastrophic injury or death;
Severe damage or failure of a localized area of the vehicle (i.e. roof crush or seatback collapse);
Belted occupants who are seriously injured or who are partially or fully ejected;
Post-collision fuel-fed fire. If any one or more of these characteristics exist in your case, you should assume that you have an Aauto product liability@ case until proven otherwise. Post-Collision Fuel-Fed FiresA number of vehicle defects can result in occupants receiving severe burn injuries or causing death in an otherwise survivable collision. Fuel system engineers with many of the auto manufacturers have publicly recognized that occupants who survive the initial impact of collision should not suffer severe or fatal injuries as a result of post-collision fire. Simply put, if an occupant can survive the initial impact, he or she should not be injured or killed in a fire that results following the initial collision. Any automobile accident involving a post-collision fuel-fed fire should be closely scrutinized for a potential crashworthiness products liability case. Seat BeltsWhen a seat belt works properly, it is the most important safety device in an automobile. When it works poorly or completely fails to work, the seat belt can cause serious injury and even death. When the occupant is killed or seriously injured in a car accident despite wearing his/her seat belt, it is reasonable to ask Why?Seat Back Failure/CollapseMany people are injured or killed when their seats collapse rearward during a rear impact collision. During a rear collision, the seat back is the key component of a restraint system. While the occupant of the collapsing seat is at risk for injury from contact with the interior of the vehicle or rearward ejection, rear seat occupants, such as children seated in car seats, are also placed at great risk from contact with the seat and/or the front seat occupant moving rearward.Roof CrushWhen a vehicle's restraint system works properly and the vehicle maintains good survival space for the occupants, roll-over accidents can be among the least threatening type of accident. Auto manufacturers have known for more than thirty years that the key to occupant safety in a roll-over accident is the ability of a vehicle roof to have good strength. When the roof of a vehicle excessively deforms during a roll-over accident, occupants are placed at risk of head injury, spinal cord injury or positional asphyxiation.Roll OverRecent government surveys indicate that pick-ups and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have a roll-over rate that is two to three times higher then the average passenger car. Eighty percent of all deaths in single vehicle crashes of SUVs involve roll-overs. Despite technology being available for several years, numerous vehicles on the road still lack electronic stability control.AirbagsAirbags are supposed to be fully inflated before the passenger falls into it during a crash. Serious injuries occur when airbags, which can travel at speeds up to two hundred miles per hour, hit occupants prior to full inflation. There are numerous low-speed impacts where an airbag may deploy when it is unnecessary. Likewise there are severe collisions where the airbag should have deployed but didn't. Despite the fact that most manufacturers had perfected side impact airbag technology years ago; many new vehicles on the road today are not equipped with side impact airbags.Tire FailureThis has been a problem for years, but has come under increased scrutiny recently due to the Firestone debacle. Tire failures, separation and blow-outs are foreseeable events that occur on a daily basis. Some kind of designs are more prone to tread seperation then others.Child Safety Seats and Booster SeatsMany of the devices sold in toy stores and baby shops are not up to the task of protecting children in crashes. Many severe injuries and deaths of children are the result of defectively designed child seats and a lack of adequate warning and instruction for use of child seats provided by auto manufacturers. Even the safest of child seats can be dangerous if the vehicle is not properly designed to accommodate child restraints or the vehicle lacks adequate instruction on how to properly install the child seat in that vehicle.Whenever you investigate an accident that has a serious injury or death, you must evaluate the possibility of an auto products liability case. In doing so you should follow these priorities:
Preserve or obtain the vehicle in question;
Do not allow the auto insurer to take the car and sell the salvage;
Do not settle with the negligent driver. This will create an Aempty chair for the defendant auto manufacturer to point to. Further, if there is joint and several liability, the negligent driver will need to be in the case.
Evaluation of auto product liability cases can be done efficiently and expeditiously if the vehicle is preserved, the accident report is available, and photos of the vehicle are available.
While in many cases, serious injury or death in an automobile accident may be unavoidable, attorneys handling what otherwise seems to be a simple, straightforward automobile accident case can provide a great service to their clients if they evaluate those serious injury cases for potential defects causing an enhanced injury.

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