Defective door latches have caused many catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths in Los Angeles. In the event of an accident, the ejection of occupants happens if the door latches are faulty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, yearly, around 8,000 victims get ejected from cars after the doors haphazardly open.

Many vehicle manufacturers use underhands when fixing doors; hence, the door latches cannot withstand certain weather conditions or accidents. The probability of fatalities in a road crash is thrice more if a passenger gets ejected owing to a detective car door latch.

Occupants ejected from cars have higher risks of sustaining injuries like a brain tumor, spinal cord injury, or even neck injuries. While some defective latches cause car doors to fly open in an accident, there are some latches that jam, making it impossible for the victims to escape. If trapped in a car after a road crash owing to detective door latches, the occupants could burn when the car bursts into flames.

Persons who incur injuries, financial losses, or experience pain and suffering seek compensation through filing lawsuits. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm goes a long way to help assess your precise state and establish your legal rights.

We have helped many victims get the compensation they deserve after they incurred various losses and injuries following a car door latch mishap. If you or any of your loved ones sustain injuries that involve detective door latches, call our office to build your case against the carmaker.

Instances Where Defective Car Door Latches are Evident

Among the most common door latch defects is a faulty remote rod. Remote rods act as the connection between door latches and handles. The door can open even in a small accident if the rod bends during the impact.

Jamming and Locking Car Door Latches

It is uncommon for door latches to jam in the event of an accident. But when they do, the occupants’ lives and safety are compromised.

When an accident occurs, the fuel tank could get damaged. If there is enough heat or sparks, and the car uses flammable gas, the odds are that the vehicle bursts into flames.

If the door latches jam, there is no way the occupants can get out, nor other people from the outside can open the doors for rescue purposes. What happens is that the occupants sustain severe burns or get burnt to death.

Also, if you sustain severe injuries in a road accident, there are higher chances to survive if you are rushed to the hospital asap. So, if the car door latches jam, chances of your survival or quick medical attention are thwarted.

Car Door Latches Releasing During Car Accidents

According to NHTSA, defective door latches weaken a car’s crashworthiness. Crashworthiness refers to a car's ability to withstand an accident at the same time, preventing the occupant from injuries.

If your car maker prioritized profits over safety, odds are they installed defective door latches. When an accident happens, the door latch gets hit, and it releases, causing the door to fly open.

Here, the ejection of occupants could happen, increasing the risk of them incurring injuries. Imagine if an occupant is ejected unharmed and meets with an oncoming vehicle. They get injured, which is something that could have been prevented if the door latches were not defective.

Possible injuries the victims could incur are facial cuts, brain injuries, hard injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, or even death.

You want to engage an experienced attorney to present your case in court for the car design defect.

Car Door Latches Releasing During Severe Weather Conditions

There exist instances where car door latches malfunction when the weather is harsh. For example, in scorching weather, the remote rod heats up and expands. Upon expanding, the rod releases inside the latch, causing the vehicle door to open haphazardly. If someone were leaning against the door when the vehicle was in motion, ejection would occur, resulting in possible injuries or wrongful death.

Another instance of harsh weather causing poorly designed latches to jam is during a heavy downpour. In this case, droplets of water could enter the lock and make it jam or unable to hold the door. The risk of sustaining injuries is higher if you get ejected out of a moving vehicle owing to a defective door latch.

Car door latches would fail in harsh weather if the manufacturer did not meet the standards stipulated by NHTSA. You want to hire a competent personal injury attorney to help with pursuing compensation should you incur injuries following a malfunctioned car door latch.

Car Door Latches Releasing During Normal Driving Conditions

Your car manufacturer could make door latches that are so weak that the doors refuse to open or open when driving under typical conditions.

Imagine driving your loved ones out of town for a trip, and they decide to lean on the doors and catch sleep. If the car door latches are defective, the risk of your loved ones sustaining injuries is high when the doors fly open, and they get ejected.

Crashworthiness and Negligence

In the year 1970, the Federal Vehicle Safety Standard 206 stipulated rules for car door latches. The regulations state that car manufacturers must make latches that could withstand an accident impact, which is 30 times more than the force of gravity. In case the latches fail during a road crash, and the occupants are injured, the carmaker is liable for injuries caused.

Causes of Car Door Latch Failures

The last thing you think about is if your car door could work fine after a car accident or in an emergency. You want to escape as fast as possible in the event of an accident. Then a faulty door latch hinders your evacuation, causing further injuries.

Defective Door Latch Design

Defects if latch designs happen when car builders create the latches in a manner that renders them risky even in typical driving conditions. 

Often, faults in car door latch designs go unnoticed until many months after the vehicle manufacturer launches a particular car model in the marketplace.

Liability for Defective Door Latch Designs

California law allows you to pursue damages and injuries that a defective door latch design causes to you. The law does not need the carmaker to show negligence when creating door latch designs. 

You term a latch as defective if:

  1. The door latch did not perform to the safety levels of your expectations even after using the latch in the right manner
  2. The design of the car door latch did not offer enough protection. This means the manufacturer creates at attractive latch design but fails to follow safety measures

The Consumer Expectations Test

A car door latch is said to have a defective design if it fails to perform as the car buyer supposes under normal usage.

Before the juror grants your compensation, they confirm various factors like:

  1. You used the car door latch as intended
  2. The circumstances that led to your injuries
  3. The features of the door latch that equates to its safety

The Benefit or Risk Test

Here, you only need to show that the car manufacturer designed the door latch, which caused harm to you or your loved one.

The court requires the manufacturer to prove that the benefits of their door latch designs surpass the risks of causing injuries in such designs.

The juror bears the jurisdiction to rule whether the benefits of the latch design surpasses the risks. There are factors the juror consider before making a decision, and they include:

  • The possibility of the door latch design resulting in bodily harm
  • The seriousness of the injuries you incur because of the defects in the latch design
  • The probability of using a safer latch design at the manufacturing stage
  • The approximate costs of using an alternative latch design
  • The risks that substitute latch designs come with

Remember that you or your lawyer have up to two years since the day you incurred injuries to file claims in court.

The discovery rule in California states that the two-year period kicks off after you find out that defects in the door latch design caused bodily harm to you.

Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects in car door latches happen when the parts that join or make up the latch do not meet standards the authority requires.

Typically, at this stage, the design is already created and approved to meet the standards required by the NHTSA. However, something might have gone wrong when joining the parts to create the final latch, render it a dangerous product.

Many times, manufacturing defects occur due to faulty manufacturing machinery, use of non-standard manufacturing material, or even a manufacturer error.

Liability for Manufacturing Defects

According to California law, you can file claims for your injuries even if the car manufacturer did not act negligently. All that you need to prove is the door latch differed from the design specifications from the manufacturer, or your door latch was different from other latches of your car.

Strict Liability for Your Injuries

You presume that upon the release of a car model, the manufacturer must have ensured that the car door latches won’t fail and perform the job they were created to do.

But if the carmaker allowed the sale of vehicles with prior knowledge that no crash tests were carried out to confirm the crashworthiness of the said cars, then they are liable for injuries incurred by users if the latches caused injuries to them.

Under California’s strict liability laws, you don’t have to offer proof that your car manufacturer installed defective door latches negligently. All that is needed is proving there was a manufacturing defect, and it caused injuries to you or your loved ones.

According to the California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI) 1201, there are certain elements needed for you to prove liability for a door latch manufacturing defect. These include:

  • The car manufacturer built and sold the vehicle that had the latch
  • The car door latch developed a mechanical problem after you purchased the car
  • You or your loved ones incurred injuries
  • The defect of the car latch was the primary factor in causing your injuries

The statute of limitations in California rules that you have two years from the day you incurred injuries to file claims in court.

However, California’s discovery rule states that the two-year limitation starts when you learn about the defective car latch.

Mechanical Problems

Like any other gadget or device out there, latches can also experience mechanical problems. Mechanical issues occur when internal gears and smaller parts malfunction. Usually, many factors could cause mechanical issues. For instance, screws loosening up over time or tearing and wear.

Your attorney should do thorough investigations to ascertain that the car manufacturer used durable parts to make the latches. Poor quality material will wear out fast hence causing parts of the lock to develop mechanical issues.

Incorrect Installation of Door Latches

Like every fixture, there is a proper way the manufacturer should fix door latches. Improper installations make the fixtures malfunction. Imagine what would happen when leaning on a door with an incorrectly installed door latch.

The probability of you sustaining serious injuries after getting ejected from a moving vehicle is high. Should such an instance happen, purpose to hire a competent

Insufficient Directions for Using Door Latches

Under California law, product manufacturers are required to offer customers with guidelines or menus explaining how the devices operate and how users should handle them.

If the door latches are manual, the information should appear in the instructions pamphlet, or the manufacturer should remember to explain to the buyer before the car leaves the store.

If the car door latch leads to your injuries and the seller had not explained some unique features about the same, you could file claims for your damages.

Faulty Remote Rod

A remote rod refers to a device that joins the latch to the handle of a car door. The remote rod is among the components that fail during a car accident. How does the part fail?

During an accident, the remote rod could bend; hence, forcing the door open. Some manufacturers make vehicles with weak remote rods. For instance, according to automotive experts, the tension-type rods often fail, unlike the compression type. 

Warning/ Information Defects

Generally, these are two distinct defects. In warning defects, the manufacturer omitted to offer warning signs and information concerning the hazardous aspects of the car door latches.

With information defects, the manufacturer failed to provide the car buyer with menus or guidelines on how to handle the latches.

How to Handle Your Defective Car Door Latch Case

You want to have a personal injury attorney before making any decision about your defective car latch case. Once you have a lawyer, it's time to build the case.

Your lawyer helps you file the claims. To receive compensation for injuries incurred after a road crash, you need to have records of pieces of evidence.

The first thing you want to do after a road crash is recording the exact time and date of the occurrence. Next, you should document the on-goings wishing the accident scene. You want to leave no stone unturned as car manufacturers are adamant about paying up compensation claims.

You also should capture well-lit and quality images of the defective latch. Remember to include a newspaper in the frame of the photos to act as evidence of the exact date. If your injuries are severe, your close friends, loved ones, or even your attorney could take the pictures on your behalf.

Take images of your injuries and seek immediate medical attention. Be sure to let your doctor know that you would pursue injury claims later, and so, they should document the treatment sessions in detail. Many a time, the court needs the doctor who treated you to appear in court as a witness. Even if your injuries are minor, kindly, seek medical attention, and file claims. Some bruises appear small only to cause more pain in the future.

Moving forward, you need to cease using the vehicle with defective latches. Talk to your friends or neighbors to appear in court as witnesses to verify that you never used the same car after your accident. 

The reason you need a knowledgeable lawyer is that your compensation depends heavily on the evidence you bring forth. So, records as much as you can concerning the door latch and harm caused to you for a better chance to win over the defendant.

What Elements Do You Need to Prove for Your Defective Latch Claims?

Many vehicle builders overlook the door latches when dealing with the crashworthiness of cars. For you to prove that the car builder installed a poorly designed door latch, you need to show certain elements in court. Establishing these elements is your primary way of receiving the compensation you deserve. The elements you need to prove are:

  • Your car door latch malfunctioned in the event of the road crash
  • Your car door latch did not comply with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) crashworthiness requirements
  • Your car door jammed or flew open because of a weak or defective door latch
  • Your car door latch failure caused severe harm to you or your loved one

Who Is Liable in Defective Car Door Latch Claims?

Your attorney needs to investigate and identify the parties responsible for car door latch defects. Usually, several parties could bear legal liabilities for defective latches.

Vehicle Manufacturers

Before releasing any car model to the market, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) requires that the manufacturer complies with all set standards. The builders should ensure that the car door latches are safe to handle in normal driving circumstances. Failure to comply with these standards, the manufacturers are held liable for injuries and damages as a result of defective car door latches.

Shippers and Wholesalers

When vehicles leave their manufacturers’ warehouses, the authority now belongs to the distributors and sellers. These wholesalers or sellers should see to it that all car parts, especially door latches, are in tiptop conditions when the buyers make purchases.

If the shippers and wholesalers are negligent when moving or storing vehicles, odds are parts like door latches get damaged. And, when an accident occurs, and you sustain injuries, the negligent shippers are held responsible for selling you an automobile with door latch defects.

Car Dealerships

At times, car manufacturers comply with all safety standards the law details for door latches. The shippers do their job correctly and ensure all vehicles are in pristine conditions when reaching various dealerships.

If door latches get damaged at the car dealerships, the dealers face liability should you acquire the car since you can incur injuries in an accident. Additional responsibility is possible if the dealer makes promises of the door latches functioning correctly, make adjustments, or damages the latches.

Auto Spare Parts Sellers

California law requires retailers of auto parts to offer car owners genuine and functional car door latches, among other vehicle spare parts. It is fraudulent to sell defective car parts, and the sellers could face liability for faulty door latches sold to customers if they cause accidents.

Injuries Caused by Defective Car Door Latches

During a car accident, a faulty door latch can release, resulting in the car door opening. The occupant could get ejected and hit their head against a hard surface, sharp objects, or oncoming traffic. You could sustain serious bodily harm and injuries or even wrongful death for occupants who don’t survive.

Possible injuries one can incur due to a defective car door latch include:

  • Neck injuries
  • Brain trauma
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Amputation
  • Paralysis
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of eyesight
  • Skin burns and scalding
  • Facial disfigurement

Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

Car door latch defects account for many avoidable injuries every year. Car accident victims can file claims for injuries sustained due to defective door latches. Compensation for defective latch claims could include pain and suffering, medical expenses, long-life disability, and monetary loss.

Following a road crash, you want to hire a reputable personal injury attorney law firm with many years of experience. We invite you to get in touch with us at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm. Our personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles are on standby to help you with your defective door latch case. We are only a call away at any time of the week at 310-935-0089.