Recently, so called Tort Reform has been a major topic of discussion. Tort Reform has a very large following of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, HMO’s, and defective food and beverage companies. These billion dollar corporations spend their profits on lobbyist and marketing campaigns in order to convince us all that most lawsuits brought to court are “frivolous,” and that payouts are “outlandish.”
This so called Tort Reform aims to restrict lawful recoveries for victims of things like medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, or defective product injuries. It also aims to make it harder to hold accountable companies that cause harm to consumers.
But if it wasn’t for trial lawyers and their litigation of these “frivolous” cases, the vehicles that we drive would not be what they are today. Cars today are loaded with countless safety features that, before litigation, did not exist. Below are 11 features of your vehicle that were improved after a court deemed it mandatory.
1. Gas Tanks – Manufacturers, like GM and Ford, designed vehicles with defective gas tank placement. The placement caused fires and explosions, even in the most minor collisions. Due to litigation, gas tanks are now universally located within rigid frames.
2. Door Handles – Ford’s own engineers cited that their paddle style door handles accidently opened in collisions. Ford continued to cover up the problem, until finally a court held them accountable and forced them to fix the issue.
3. SUV Stability – SUV stability has always been an issue. Ford’s rollover rate, at one time, was twice that of any other SUV. After injury and death, litigation increased emphasis on the development of Electronic Stability Control.
4. Airbags – Airbags have been being designed since the 1950’s, but by 1988, only 2% of new cars were made with them. Eventually, courts made in mandatory to manufacturer all new vehicles with airbags.
5. Faulty “Park” – Ford and Chrysler both experienced issues with transmissions that slipped out of Park and caused cars to roll away. In Ford’s instance, it caused the death of a pregnant woman trying to save the life of her four year old daughter inside the rolling minivan. Ford fixed the error after being held liable twice in court. Chrysler continued to ignore the problem until litigation forced a recall of over 1 million affected vehicles.
6. Tires – Firestone and Goodyear tried to hide defective tire problems for years before courts finally held them accountable. Firestone tires were responsible for 271 deaths before they were finally recalled.
7. Side-impact Protection – a police officer was paralyzed after a low-speed side impact collision. The court found that the absence of side protection was a vehicle defect. Now all cars are equipped with side-impact protection.
8. Weak Seats – Seats were not made strong enough and were collapsing during collisions, killing rear passengers. It was litigation that forced manufacturers to begin installing stronger seats in all vehicles.
9. Seatbelts – Court cases did a lot in bringing to light the dangers of inferior seatbelts, or no seatbelts at all. For example, Chryslers Gen 3 seatbelt was installed in over 14 million cars and proven to unlatch in accidents. Litigation forced Chrysler to redesign both seats and seatbelts.
10. Power Windows – Power windows became more common, and so too did associated injury and death. Children were especially susceptible because of accidently hitting the rocker style switch that moved the window up or down. The inexpensive solution would have been to replace the rocker style with a lift up style. The solution was ignored to cut costs until litigation forced universal acceptance of the safer switch.
11. Roof Strength – The strength of car roofs was known to be in need of improvement, but only litigation actually made it happen.
Thanks to these cases being brought to court by trial lawyers, judges and juries were able to hold the right parties responsible for unnecessary injury and death, and also reverse the problems to prevent future loss. Trial Attorneys are essential to maintain a balance between consumers and manufacturers.
If you or a loved one feel you have been wronged by a medical malpractice, insurance company, or defective product manufacturer, you’ll need a trial attorney. The trial attorneys at Mininno Law Firm are here to help. Contact us or call (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.