There is a lawsuit that’s going through the Riverside county court system, which could change the way auto makers look at safety options in their vehicles – and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for consumers.
Here’s why. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, this lawsuit, filed by family members of two people killed in a 2002 Chevy Suburban rollover, contends that General Motors Corp. was negligent in not providing an electronic stability control system in its mainstream SUV model. The auto maker offered those options only in its luxury vehicle models such as Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Corvette and the Cadillac Seville.
Here’s the question the plaintiffs pose to the jury – should safety be a luxury option? Or should it be mandated for all vehicles? Well, plaintiff attorneys say that once a company has developed a safety device or technology, they have the obligation to consumers to offer it on all their vehicles – whether they are economy or luxury models.
But then again, will auto makers sacrifice profits just to cut down on fatality and injury rates? History has shown us time and again that they will not. Take the example of the Ford Explorer, a model which has become synonymous with instability and rollover crashes. It would be naïve to believe that Ford didn’t know that there were things they could’ve done at little additional cost to make the Explorer safer for its drivers and passenger.
Experts believe that the success of this lawsuit, to be heard in a Riverside courtroom later this month, will likely fuel other similar lawsuits. The federal government recently mandated that electronic stability systems be installed in all new passenger vehicles starting in the 2012 model year. The auto industry has consistently maintained that they put these systems on luxury vehicles because those buyers don’t think twice to pay extra for these safety features.
This lawsuit was the result of an accident that took the lives of Rosa Maria Rodriguez, 32, and 7-year-old MacKenzie Shaver. Rodriguez lost control of the vehicle, which reportedly flipped more than four times as she tried to steer it back on to the road. GM made an offer to settle the case for $487,000, but the family rejected it. The jury will have to grapple with issues such as whether the presence of safety technology in the Suburban would have saved the two lives and whether it would be cost-effective for the manufacturers to put this safety feature on their economy models.
Next month in a Los Angeles County court room our attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys will be in trial with Ford Motor Company for a case of involving a lady that was paralyzed after a rented Ford Excursion, without electronic stability control, rolled over during an accident. The roof of the Excursion crushed in, compressing the spine of a school teacher.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an SUV rollover accident or any auto accident, call me for a free consultation. John Bisnar, 800-259-6373.