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Deadly Auto Defects: From the 1900s to Now

By Timothy Bussey on March 22, 2021

The very first automobile was invented in 1886 and was nothing more than a carriage with a heavy gas engine attached. Ford eventually began mass-manufacturing cars in the early 1910s. At the time, these vehicles could only go around 10-20 mph, but were still dangerous. Without seatbelts or airbags, and incredibly top heavy, death via car crash was common in the early twentieth century.

The government quickly established the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to regulate this new form of transportation. However, this new department wasn’t able to stop defective auto parts from causing injury then, and it still can’t today. The United States has a long history of dangerous and deadly auto defects.

1915

Would it surprise you to hear that the very first auto recall was all the way back in 1915? Ford had to recall all of his original Model T’s, one of the very first cars ever made available to the public in America, due to the fact that the seats were stuffed with Spanish moss, rather than stuffing or cotton. As a result, small bugs, known as berry bugs or chiggers, would crawl out of the seats and bite drivers and passengers alike. Not the deadliest recall, but certainly not a painless experience!

1965

The new line of Chevrolet Impalas was introduced in 1965, and it quickly became apparent that the cars were far from safe. The engine was poorly mounted, and in certain circumstances, would lift. This impacted the throttle linkage, causing the throttle to suddenly increase. This would shoot the car forward, causing serious collisions. The most disturbing part of this defect was the fact that the cars were not recalled until 1969, four years after both the company and the government knew there was a major problem.

1984

The SUV is known to be a rollover hazard today. With their high centers of gravity, taking a turn too quickly can easily cause these vehicles to flip. However, there wasn’t any excuse for the 1984 Bronco defect that caused countless injuries and deaths. The odd design of the wheels and axles in this early SUV model would cause it to tip forward onto its front two wheels, even when going as slow as 20 mph. This meant that hitting the brakes in your bucking Bronco was liable to cause your entire car to flip forward.

1990

Within the first few years of the 1990s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) received thousands of reports that a recently released tire was defective, causing countless blowouts and accidents. Hundreds were killed by these tires, and even more were injured. It took almost a decade for the companies responsible, Ford and Firestone, to finally recall the deadly tires.

2005

Yet again, an SUV was found to be responsible for catastrophic injuries and deaths. Fiat was fully aware that their Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee had poorly designed gas tanks. The tanks were practically unprotected, meaning any collision could cause the SUVs to explode, or be engulfed in flames. These were issues starting in the ‘80s, and yet Fiat refused to do anything about them until the 2000s. Even then, the redesigns implemented were kept secret to try and keep the public in the dark about the dangers of the original design.

2011

Perhaps the most famous of modern auto defects, the Toyota Camry was recalled due to the fact that the acceleration pedal was getting stuck, leaving drivers speeding out of control and unable to stop. There were actually three recalls of the Toyota Camry in 2009, 2010, and 2011; each one for a similar problem. These entrapped peddles caused unimaginable damage and cost many their lives. The issue was clearly not fixed fast enough.

2019

The saga of the Toyota Camry has continued all the way up to 2019, and we are sure it will have a few more recalls in the future as well. This time, it is due to an issue where the passenger airbag would fail to deploy, leaving passengers without any protection in the event of a collision. Needless to say, this is an incredibly dangerous defect that could easily cost someone their life. If you have a 2019 Toyota Camry, we recommend looking into the recall, and finding out whether your car needs to be returned.

Defects Today

One thing that the history of auto defects makes abundantly clear is that car companies will do their best to cover up their mistakes, even if it costs people their lives. Recalls only ever happen as a last resort, when the company realizes that the lawsuits against them will cost more than taking back defective products. If you have been injured due to an auto defect, then you have the right to file a claim against the liable company. However, having the legal right to do so will not make the process easy.

The auto company will most likely fight you tooth and nail. They may even try to blame your injuries on your own negligence, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary. The best way to handle these cases is to make sure you have a skilled Colorado Springs car accident attorney in your corner, fighting for you. Thankfully, you can find an excellent team at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. To get the help you need, call us at (719) 475-2555 today.

Posted in: Product Liability


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