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The History of Deadly Auto Defects in America

By Grant Law Office on March 31, 2021

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Hidden defects have caused serious and fatal automobile accidents over the decades. Statistically, there is a greater likelihood of a defect being in a vehicle than most people know, as manufacturers intentionally keep these issues as quiet as possible. By the time some auto defects became widely publicized, too many people had already died or been seriously injured. Below are some of the deadliest auto defects in American history.

Ford Bronco II’s Deadly Design

This manufacturing defect has killed more people than any other in the U.S. It caused 17,721 people to be involved in rollover crashes, with 823 deaths from 1984 to 1996. Because of its defective design, the Bronco II would tip onto two wheels at speeds as low as 20 mph. Ford failed to correct the faulty design once it found out or warn consumers of the danger. The company finally stopped manufacturing this vehicle in 1990 and replaced it with the Explorer.

Firestone Tread Separation and Blowouts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating defective Firestone tires after receiving more than 3,500 reports beginning in the early 1990s. In 2000, Firestone recalled 14.4 million of these faulty tires in the U.S. Tread separation and blowouts with these tires caused more than 700 injuries and 271 deaths.

When a tire blows out suddenly, particularly at highway speeds, it can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The rear of the vehicle may swing around, perpendicular to the direction of travel. If a tire blows out on an SUV, it can destabilize the vehicle, causing a rollover crash. This can lead to serious harm to the occupants, including spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, crush injuries, and fractures.

Exploding Engines in Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee

In 2005, these vehicles had more than double the death rate of other SUVs in their class, as stated by Due to a defective design, the gas tanks of the Fiat Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee were not properly protected and were likely to explode in test and real crashes. With 478 deaths since 1998, the NHTSA finally ordered Fiat to recall 2.7 million of these vehicles in 2013. However, two years later, only 4% of defective Grand Cherokees and 27% of defective Liberties had been repaired – one of the slowest recall repair rates in history. These exploding engines caused vehicle occupants to burn to death.

Ignition Switch Defects in General Motors Vehicles

From 2003 to 2011, millions of General Motors vehicles had faulty ignition switches installed. This manufacturing defect caused cars to suddenly shut off at high speeds, leaving drivers with no working power steering, brakes, or airbags. General Motors’ faulty ignition switches killed 303 people and injured many others, as reported by GM recalled 2.6 million vehicles and issued five million notices to registered owners. Faulty ignition switches caused many serious injuries, including:

  • Blunt force trauma to the lungs, ribs, and shoulders
  • Internal organ damage
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries

Getting Compensation After an Auto Defect

If you have been injured in a crash caused by an auto defect, you may be able to recover compensation in a product liability claim. You should retain experienced Atlanta product liability attorneys to give you the best chance for a successful claim. Here at Grant Law Office, we offer clients the knowledge and skill of a husband-and-wife law team. Attorney Wayne Grant has been named to the Georgia Super Lawyers® list and awarded the highest possible rating by Martindale-Hubbell®. If you bring your case to us, you can trust that we will diligently advocate for your best interests. Call us at (404) 995-3955 to schedule a free consultation.

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