Car accidents often occur because of several different faults present even after manufacturing and quality assessment processes. Accidents caused by defective car door latches often result in very severe outcomes for the victims, especially where they fell out of the vehicle from the sudden opening of the car door. Moreover, a faulty door latch may expose the victims to safety hazards that could also trap them inside the car, leaving little room for escape when the vehicle is in danger. As an afflicted person, you have the right to claim damages for an accident caused by a defective car door latch, to ensure that you fully recover from the losses and ordeals you underwent. Moreover, a compensation suit may also be beneficial in calling out manufacturing companies that allow sub-quality vehicle brands to circulate.
Seeking compensation for a defective door latch car accident calls for the support of a well-equipped lawyer who is conversant with car accident laws and policies. Our team at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney has worked with numerous clients who suffered damages from defective car door latches, with a high success rate in court. We also purpose to provide you with the best litigation experience by building a lasting relationship with our clients that ensures satisfactory results even after winning your compensatory suit in court.
Defining a Defective Car Door Latch Accident
The main reason for the occurrence of defective car door latch accidents is the faulty nature of the door latch that holds the door onto the entire car frame. The small latch is found on the edge of the door frame and locks into a tight opening on the car door to secure it shut. With the latch acting as a bridge holding the car door securely, a defect will attract adverse consequences that vary depending on the type of defect present.
Typically, an accident arising from a faulty or low-quality car door latch causes the worst impact when the vehicle moves at a relatively high speed. Due to the defective latch, the car door is likely to open up randomly, causing a passenger who sat too close to the door to experience a sudden force. Consequently, such a passenger may fall out of the vehicle, especially if he/she had not fastened the seatbelt.
Alternatively, such an accident may occur when the defective latch detaches from the door frame entirely and falls off on the road. While no harm may affect the passengers inside the vehicle, the fallen car door can create a barrier on the way and result in multiple accidents involving other cars as they try to apply brakes suddenly.
The Causes of Defective Car Door Latch Accidents
Like most car accidents, common causes lead to this kind of car accident, with most of them due to poor manufacturing skills. Even so, a defective car door latch accident may occur from a sudden impact on the road that creates too much force on the vehicle frame, causing the latches to break off. Although typical, such an occurrence is not the primary cause of defective door latch accidents, as most of them occur even with the correct use of the car door. The common causes the accident are:
The design of a car door should be precise to ensure that the door latch fits well into the opening, where it secures the door when it closes. Therefore, if the door latch undergoes inefficient design, it may lead to inconsistent dimensions on the car door when closed against the car door latch, making it impossible to close the door tightly. Consequently, the poor design leads to a loose-fitting of the fastener into the open mechanism that allows it to click into a secure position. Such an inefficient design may be dangerous to passengers because the door will not close fully. Thus, applying minimal force like leaning on the door will be detrimental to you, especially if you have not fastened the seat belt.
Improper Door Latch Installation
The door latch installation should also happen under the close observation of measurements and precise placement to ensure that the door latch position matches the open click where it should fit to close the door. If the assembling personnel does not take accurate recordings, the latch may quickly fall out of place and fail to close the door securely.
Alternatively, improper installation of the door latch may involve screwing it loosely. Such a consistent application of force as you shut the car door wears out the screws and makes the latch fall out of place eventually.
Faults in the Manufacturing Process
A defective car door latch may also result in an accident where the manufacturing encompasses specific faults. Many faults occur during the manufacture of car parts, mainly where the company focuses more on cutting corners or reducing expenses to increase the profit margins. For example, a manufacturing company may use a lower quality metal alloy to manufacture the car door latch, causing the latch to deform or deteriorate quickly upon use.
Additionally, most faults are also associated with the use of second-hand car door parts to reduce the cost of using new products. Consequently, some hinges and car handle rods that work hand in hand with the car door latch may be worn out because of friction and malfunction when you try to open or close the car door. The main reason such impunity goes undetected is that most of these car door parts are fixed inside the car frame, leaving you no chance to perform a proper inspection of their quality at the time of purchase or use of the car.
Defects in Mechanical Processes
Sometimes, the problem of a defective car door latch may arise from several mechanical issues inside the car door frame, causing inefficiency in the door latch use. For example, when the metal remote rods inside the door handle mechanisms fail to turn and straighten efficiently, you may be unable to pull the remote rod to click away from the door latch to open the car door. Similarly, the remote rods may fail to bend when in use to accommodate the space that the door latch occupies when it fits into the open space of the car door frame to fasten the door as you close it.
The result of such mechanical defects is a difficult time trying to close the door securely or deal with a stuck door often. While both of these situations are frustrating, it is more hazardous for you when the door frame is susceptible to opening up quickly, as it may result in severe consequences for any passenger seated close to the broken door.
Mishaps Arising from a Defective Car Door Latch
As mentioned before, you may be the victim of several possible types of car accidents, depending on the cause of the defective car door latch. In most cases, the victims face severe impacts when they have unfastened their seatbelts, as the force of motion may push them out of the car. The accidents that most victims often suffer from a defective car door latch are:
Entrapment Inside the Car
In case of any danger inside the vehicle, you may suffer from a severe accident when the door latch fails to unclick to open the car door. For example, when you smell fumes inside your car, you are likely to suspect a gas leakage that could turn out to be lethal. Consequently, if your car door latch fails to open up because of a mechanical problem or a defective design, you will have a hard time pushing the door open, especially if you are alone. Subsequently, you may fail to escape the impending danger inside your vehicle and suffer severe injuries from the accident caused.
Defective Hatch Structure
The door hatch holds the entire car door structure together, to prevent the door frame from tipping over and falling. Thus, when the car door latch has some defects that affect the entire hatch system, the whole car door frame may fall off, mainly when you apply brakes suddenly or subject the vehicle to a student force when driving on a bumpy road. In this case, even though you may not be the first-hand victim of the accident, several motorists driving behind you may be exposed to road debris that could cause severe accidents. Additionally, you may skid off the road because of the initial shock that impairs your driving as the car door falls off the vehicle frame, resulting in a high impact accident.
Broken Door Rods
When the defective car door latch causes the remote rods to break off, you will be unable to use the door handle. Additionally, the broken remote rods may penetrate the protective layer on the car door and expose passengers to tears and pricks when they sit too close to the car door. In such a situation, you will be exposed to a safety hazard that may cause severe injuries when the vehicle shifts position abruptly and pushes you towards exposed broken door rods.
Ejection From the Vehicle
You are also likely to get thrown off a vehicle that has a defective car door latch. For such an occurrence, the faulty latch should cause the car door to close loosely, leaving you exposed to the possibility of the car door opening up. Subsequently, the car is moving at high speed, and you have not worn your seatbelt, any sudden force that opens up the door will eject you from the vehicle. Such an accident is often grisly enough on the passenger, on top of exposing other oncoming motorists to the danger of an open car door on the highway.
Establishing the Parties at Fault After a Defective Car Door Latch Accident
If you are well enough after experiencing any car accident, we recommend contacting your car accident attorney immediately to begin filing a compensatory suit expeditiously. Once you get in touch with your lawyer, you will need to provide all the details necessary to determine the parties at fault for your accident, before instituting the suit in court.
To establish the parties liable for your accident, you will have to analyze the events that occurred before the accident, as well as the immediate cause of the incident. Afterward, you will relate it with the respective parties responsible for handling such matters with your lawyer's help. Such a strategy allows you to file a suit under product liability, which places more scrutiny on the manufacturer than the victim when establishing fault.
Some of the factors you should consider to help you file the claim against the car manufacturer are:
You Used the Car Door Correctly
As a claimant, you should ensure that you played no part in the defective nature of the car door latch, as it may result in contributory negligence when the matter is handled in court. Subsequently, you must have used the car door usually, following all the provided guidelines to ensure that you did not cause the damage or deterioration of the latch. If this is the case, the blame shifts from you and falls mainly on the manufacturers or assembly engineers, primarily because they are responsible for putting the car door latch mechanisms in place before releasing it to the market.
You Did not Change the Door Latch Mechanisms Significantly Before the Accident.
One of the defenses that the manufacturer may raise when the compensatory suit begins is that you changed the latch parts. The company is therefore not liable for the defects that caused your accident. However, if you can show that the original pieces are still intact and that you did not interfere with the door latch mechanisms before the accident, the manufacturer will be liable for incorporating sub-standard components to the vehicle door frame and latch.
Apart from the car manufacturer, other parties that may be liable for your car door accident include:
Quality and Safety Assurance Officers
A quality and safety authority should undertake the necessary tests on any vehicle manufactured before it's release to the market, to ensure that it does not pose any danger to the consumer. Consequently, you have a right to seek damages from the relevant quality assurance officers, especially when the defective car door latch accident is something that the quality assurance personnel ought to have identified before passing your vehicle in the safety test.
The engineers in charge of designing your car brand's mechanisms may also be liable for your accident, primarily if the immediate cause of the incident arose from defective engineering mechanisms. Therefore, the engineering firm responsible for applying different car door latch mechanisms should be answerable for faulty design or installation that causes a severe accident.
You may also consider including your car dealer as a liable party for your damages claim, mainly if he/she sold you a second-hand vehicle with the knowledge that it may contain some defects. Due to the withheld information that may have saved you from the car accident, the retailer will be liable for making false representations using advertising methods to get you to purchase a vehicle with a defective door latch.
Elements You Must Prove in Your Compensatory Suit
All civil cases place the burden of proof on the claimant, as he/she is the afflicted person seeking redress for the harm caused. Your car accident attorney will have to gather evidence to prove that your accident claim is valid and that you are eligible to receive compensation for the losses sustained from the car accident.
The following are the factors you must prove in your civil suit to confirm that the defendant is liable to pay damages:
The Car Door Latch Had Defects
The primary cause of your accident arises because of a defect in the door latch. Therefore, the judge will require sufficient proof to show that the latch was inefficient or defective in use, exposing you to the accident that occurred. With the help of your lawyer, you can request a professional vehicle damage assessor who will report certifying your claims. In doing so, you will have provided acceptable evidence to prove that the latch was defective before the accident and that it contributed directly to the incident you were involved in.
The Defective Door Latch Was the Direct Cause of Your Injuries
Apart from proving that the door latch was defective, you must demonstrate that the dysfunction was the direct cause of your accident, causing severe injuries to you or other passengers in the vehicle. In this case, the main point to demonstrate would be that you did not engage in any other activities that may have resulted in your injuries before or after the defective car door latch accident.
As a result, you need evidence to show that the injuries sustained were because of a high impact when you were ejected from the car, or when the defective latch trapped you in the vehicle, exposing you to dangers inside the vehicle. The primary source of evidence would be from medical reports that show a direct relationship between the kind of impact you faced from the accident with the injuries and bruises you suffered.
Moreover, it is beneficial to request witnesses to present their testimonies to corroborate the report you provide on non-indulgence in any other activity that may have caused the injuries you suffered. The statements will help you submit a valid claim to demonstrate that your injuries arose from the defective door latch accident only.
You Were Using the Car Door Normally
Typically, the opening and closing of a car door should only involve using the internal and external handle to effect the open-close mechanism. While the directive is that simple, you will have to prove that you did not use extraordinary methods to open/close the door before the accident, as it would be a significant cause of the door latch defects. Thus, the judge may issue a court order for the car's inspection for any marks or deformities that indicate the improper use of the door latch. However, if no such proof is available, you will have sufficiently proved that you used the door latch appropriately, and did not contribute to the defective door latch accident.
Compensatory Claims to Raise for a Defective Car Door Latch Accident
After a successful demonstration of all your points that place liability on the appropriate defendants, the judge will move to reward you with damages, depending on the claims you raise. In a civil case, the costs to be awarded are liquidated, meaning that it is up to the judge to determine the price payable by the defendants based on the claims raised. Thus, you need to consider the losses and injuries you sustained to ensure that you receive a fair amount that allows you to restore your daily life before the car accident. We recommend raising claims for:
Naturally, you will seek medical help after involvement in a car accident. During the medical examinations, you will receive multiple drug prescriptions as well as appointments to monitor your recovery rate, especially if you have sustained severe injuries. All these experiences will take up a considerable sum of money, mainly if your medical insurance company provides a cover for limited medical services. The defendants should bear costs for the expenses you spent in the hospital, to reimburse you for the trouble caused.
Pain and Suffering
Additionally, you are bound to undergo intense pain and suffering after a defective door latch accident, especially if you were ejected from the vehicles. You may sustain severe injuries like:
Traumatic brain injury
Spinal cord injuries
Severe lacerations and abrasions
You are entitled to recover from all the pain and inconvenience caused by such injuries, especially when you have to undergo dramatic life-changing operations like amputations that cause permanent body deformities.
Loss of Wages and Future Income
If your injuries result in permanent paralysis or disfigurement, you may be unable to get back to work. Thus, you may lose your source of income as well as the opportunity to engage in future career opportunities that provide income for you and your family. The occurrence is common when your job occupation demands a lot of active time, with constant movement and lifting of items. Therefore, the defendants have to pay enough damages to sustain you and your dependents, if any, for a reasonable duration. The costs to be paid will depend on your projected work period.
Additionally claims to raise include:
Compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one
Damage of property
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Near Me
Being the victim of a car accident caused by a defective car door latch may cause devastating consequences for you and your loved ones. With the numerous clients we have helped over the years, you can count on the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney to guide and represent you as you seek compensation for the accident. We work hard to ensure that you receive the best legal services in Los Angeles to remedy the losses caused by defective car door latch accidents. Call us today at 424-237-3600 to begin your legal journey with us.