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Product Liability: Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 1987 Ford Bronco

Ford Bronco motor vehicle defects have been noted by many product liability attorneys. In 2001, a woman was driving four children to a sleepover in her 1987 Ford Bronco. The children were not wearing their seat belts. When the woman momentarily turned to her backseat passengers, she veered off the country road and flipped and rolled the Bronco. Sadly, a 12-year-old boy was thrown from the SUV and suffered brain damage. As result of his personal injuries, the boy has given up his athletic dreams due to memory problems and other cognitive difficulties. His father worries that his son won't be able to hold a job.

The family filed suit against Ford. Their product liability lawyer claimed that the Ford Bronco's high center of gravity contributed to the car crash and as such, Ford is inherently responsible.

Ford has been plagued with a legacy of SUV rollover problems in many of its SUVs. In 1982, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a notice that it was considering requiring warning labels and warning information in the owner's manuals of sports utility vehicles. The public's lack of awareness about the proper handling and operation of multipurpose vehicles--SUVs, motivated this motion. It listed a number of vehicles with relatively short wheelbase, a narrow track, high ground clearance, a high center of gravity, stiff suspension system, and four-wheel drive. The Ford Bronco was one of them.

A NHTSA report to Congress documented that the multipurpose vehicle fatality rate in rollover crashes was 196 percent above the average for light trucks and passenger cars combined, and that the higher center of gravity is a contributing factor. In 1990, a study by two researchers entitled, Engineering Parameters Related to Rollover Frequency examined vehicle parameters affecting stability and concluded that reducing the track-width to center-of-gravity height ratio of trucks to that of passenger cars could reduce rollover frequency by as much as 60 percent.

During the trial, a Ford spokeswoman pointed out that the driver admitted that she had turned around to "argue with children in the rear seat" at the time of the car crash. This, she claimed, caused Hale to veer off the road. Ford added that the children in the rear seats were not buckled up as they should have been.

While careful, attendant driving is critically important in avoiding car accidents, casting full blame on the driver for this tragic SUV accident is the one thing giant car makers typically like to do. Car makers also typically cite that accident victims would have sustained fewer personal injuries had they been wearing a seatbelt. While buckling up is always a good idea, it's no substitute for designing a safer vehicle.

A South Carolina jury concluded that Hale was only 45% at fault and held Ford 55% responsible. Ford was ordered to pay $31 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

The family is to be commended for confronting a major car maker like Ford. Their son was seriously and perhaps permanently injured, yet they saw the importance of holding Ford accountable for designing an SUV that was obviously unsafe. Our hope is that these defective product lawsuits and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other car makers will convince them to improve their vehicles and make them less likely to roll over.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.


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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in various other states through our affiliations with local law firms. Through the local firm we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice.

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