Case Study: Defective Automobile Products

When a minor auto accident results in catastrophic injuries, a manufacturing flaw in the vehicle may be to blame.

In one specific case, a man driving to work came to a stop at a red light. Behind him, the driver of a mid-size pickup truck failed to notice the red light and slammed into the back of the man’s car, resulting in a moderately bad accident. The driver of the pickup truck walked away uninjured, while the man who was stopped at the red light sustained serious injuries to his spinal cord, ultimately causing paralysis. Although the driver of the pickup was at fault for failing to notice the light’s signal, the other driver should not have suffered such a devastating injury because of the relatively low speed of the collision.

Why This Case Matters

According to current safety standards, car manufacturers are tasked with creating safe vehicles for consumers. When a minor accident results in catastrophic injuries, the safety and crashworthiness of the vehicle becomes a legitimate concern. Crashworthiness cases involve the automobile manufacturer failing to take precautions that reduce the likelihood of injuries resulting from common traffic accidents. When the man’s family came to us, we took this case because a moderate rear impact like he experienced should not have resulted in such debilitating injuries.

How We Built
A Winning Case

01 Investigate

Once we took this case, we immediately started investigating the exact cause of our client’s injuries. We combed through critical evidence–documenting the crash scene with photographs and measurements and obtaining witness statements. We worked with a professional reconstructionist to determine the speeds of the vehicles on impact, comparing this information with the crash data recorded during the accident. We discovered the collapse of the seat back should not have occured from such a low-impact collision. As a result, our team filed a lawsuit against the vehicle’s manufacturer based on the faulty seat back.

02 Analyze

In order to win our case, we conducted extensive analysis of the seat to determine the exact reason of mechanical failure, including hiring a metallurgist to determine why the materials in the seat broke apart. Furthermore, we conducted studies of other car seats in similar crashes and determined that other manufacturers’ seats remained intact, protecting the crash test dummies. Our research and expert opinion demonstrated that the mechanisms within the seat were defective and failed to properly absorb the rear impact, resulting in the seat’s collapse and our client’s unnecessary injury.

03 Synthesize

After compiling the evidence and analyzing all aspects of the crash, we could demonstrate, without a doubt, that the faulty seat caused our client’s injuries. Next, we met with his physicians, additional spinal cord experts, life care planners, and an economist to determine the monetary settlement necessary to take care of our client and his family, allowing them to live a happy, healthy, fulfilled life.

The Result

After presenting our case, our client was awarded a financial settlement that would ensure his medical needs and future caregiving challenges would not be a burden. And, since his settlement, our client’s fighting spirit has allowed him to live a life he finds enjoyable—including completing several triathlons over the years.

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