The continuing improvements in automotive safety provide a good example of how lawsuits save lives. Cars were once designed only for looks and speed, safety features weren’t considered in the design and selling cars without what are now considered basic safety features wasn’t thought of as negligent. Because of civil lawsuits auto manufacturers have made progressively safer automobiles. As a direct result of litigation, gas tanks are now universally located within the rigid frames of the automobile. Gas tanks are now designed and placed in positions where they are more protected in collisions. This makes gas tanks less hazardous by reducing the risk of cars exploding or catching fire in a crash.
Air bags are another area where litigation has saved lives. Automobile manufacturers began developing air bags in the 1950’s but delayed implementing them as safety features. In the early 1970’s the courts regularly ruled with automobile manufacturers that vehicles without airbags were not defective or unreasonably dangerous. As a result of continued lawsuits, air bags are now standard features in automobiles and automobile collisions are less likely to result in serious injury or death.
Litigation has led to many changes that have made cars safer. Automobile manufacturers have redesigned vehicles to reduce the severity of injuries suffered in collisions and the likelihood of people being ejected from cars in rollover accidents. Manufacturers continue to improve seat belts and airbags to help protect not just the driver but now also passengers. Side impact is now addressed in the structural design of vehicles. Door latches have been redesigned to reduce the likelihood of doors opening in a collision. The redesign of power window switches now protects children from injury or death from accidentally triggering the window. Seat backs and car roof strength have both been improved to prevent injury in serious collisions and rollovers.
Recently, also because of litigation, a federal court in Arizona found that a vehicle may be defective or unreasonably dangerous because the side windows are made are tempered rather than laminated glass. Tempered glass shatters into hundreds of small pieces on impact where laminated glass, which is already required for front windshields, holds together when shattered. Laminated glass would help keep people from being ejected from cars in accidents. Most deaths in rollover accidents result from people who have been ejected from the vehicle after the window shatters. If laminated glass becomes standard for side windows it will be another example of lawsuits improving safety measures in automobiles and saving lives.
Civil lawsuits have resulted in safer products in many other areas. We no longer have swimming pool drains that drown children because of the suction of the drain or lead based cosmetic products that cause neurological damage. Typically lawsuits have to be filed before laws or regulations are implemented by Congress. Tractor trailer safety has come to the forefront of congressional scrutiny because of lawsuits over the extraordinary damages caused in trucking accidents. Trucking regulations are changing requiring driver to get more rest so they will be more alert when traveling the nation’s highways. Lawsuits make the world safer for everyone.
Consumers have rights. No matter what product it is, manufacturers are responsible for their actions. With hundreds of potentially defective products in the marketplace, you may have been injured in an accident. If you have had an experience with a defective product in Tennessee, contact us or call toll free: 800-637-7024 for an experienced Tennessee product liability lawyer.