According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 8,000
people are ejected through the doors of motor vehicles every year because
of broken car door latches. This can cause numerous injuries, including
abrasions, head injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic
brain injuries–especially when the vehicle is moving at a fast speed
and/or there happen to be other cars on the road with it. Death may even
result. (In 1997, a federal jury held Chrysler Corporation for $262.5
million in the door latch death of a 6-year-old boy who was thrown from
a minivan when the latch on the rear liftgate of the vehicle failed during
a collision. The child sustained a fatal skull fracture.)
At The Gilbert Law Group, our auto products liability law firm represents victims and their families with defective vehicle parts claims and lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, and sellers. If you believe that a defective or failed door latch was the cause of your injuries or a loved one’s death, one of our door latch defect attorneys would be happy to speak with you during your free case evaluation.
Located on driver and passenger doors and on the hood, trunk, and rear lift gate, door latches can be controlled automatically, remotely, or manually. When a vehicle is moving, it is important for its doors to stay closed, even locked, to keep occupants in–especially when there are children in the car (most vehicles have door latches that are designed for child safety.) The door latch system is what allows occupants and the driver to lock and unlock the doors.
Unfortunately, despite federal regulations that require that door latches meet a “crashworthiness” test and be able to sustain a certain amount of inertial force during a collision (at least 30 Gs of force), there are door latches that still continue to fail, jeopardizing the lives occupants.
Examples of door latch system failures:
• Failure to meet NHTSA’s safety standards
• Improper door closing: The door latch cannot close properly if the card door isn’t properly closed. Newer autos now give off a warning if one of the doors appears closed but really isn’t once the vehicle has started running.
• Jammed door latches: Just as it is important for occupants to be securely enclosed within a vehicle, it is also important for them to be able to get out of the car–especially in an emergency situation. A jammed door latch may prevent a person from getting out.
Jury Finds Chrysler Liable for $262.5 Million, The New York Times, October 9, 1997
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Door Locks and Door Retention Components and Side Impact Protection, NHTSA