Auto Product Liability: 1993 Ford Explorer Defective Suspension
Most auto product liability attorneys will admit that defective auto products are dangerous to vehicle occupants. In 2004, 41-year-old Ruben Zamora, an oil field worker, was driving his 1993 Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicle on a south Texas road near San Antonio. When a tire overheated and lost its tread, Zamora lost control, the Explorer rolled over, and Zamora was ejected from the vehicle. He suffered severe brain damage as a result of the car accident and will need care and assistance for the rest of his life.
Mr. Zamora's mother subsequently filed a lawsuit against Ford. Her product liability attorneys alleged that the tire tread separations set off vibrations in the rear of the SUV that made it skate sideways due to a defect in the vehicle's suspension. This caused Zamora to lose control of the vehicle. It was further alleged that Ford knew about the problem for years and failed to fix it.
"Initially introduced in March of 1990, the Ford Explorer had suffered from a variety of design problems," observed nationally recognized auto defect lawyer John Bisnar. "In this case, numerous Ford internal documents revealed that even Ford engineers had suggested a number of changes to the vehicle's design after it rolled over in Ford company tests. Regrettably, other than a few minor changes, the Explorer's suspension and track width were not changed. Ford had come to the conclusion that implementing these changes would delay the Explorer's introduction by up to ten months. Ford could also have revised the specs for its tires, but decided to simply lower their recommended air pressure to 26 psi. Ford never fully tested the tires at this level. Yet Firestone's recommended psi for maximum load--which was molded into the tire--was 35 psi. If a tire's pressure is too low, too much of the rubber touches the road surface, which creates excessive heat, causing a tire's internal components and chemical bonds to break down.
"The dangerous combination of poor suspension design and under-inflated tires has been well documented had resulted in a rising number of deaths and injuries. Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires on Ford Explorers are prone to overheating when driven at prolonged highway speeds. This resulted in tread separations and lethal car crashes as well as frequent rollovers. Tragically, at least 135 people have lost their lives over this problem," said John Bisnar.
Although Ford claimed that Zamora was not properly belted when the vehicle rolled over, and that a prior owner had somehow modified the seatbelt system, a Texas jury agreed with the victim's mother. Jurors found that the Explorer was defective. They also found that Zamora was 35 percent at-fault for the car accident, which reduced their $10 million verdict by 35 percent, leaving a $6.5 million verdict against Ford.
"Over the years, the many problems that plagued this SUV had begun to take their toll in reduced sales," noted John Bisnar. "Ford sold more than 400,000 Explorers in 2002. Yet it sold only 137,817 Explorers in 2007, a 23 percent decline from 2006. Honda's smaller CR-V surpassed Explorer in 2007 as the top-selling sport-utility vehicle."
Brian Chase of the nationally recognized defective auto product law firm of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys made this observation, "This is another example of how a cascading series of defects can cause disastrous consequences for SUV drivers. Amidst the grief of losing her son, Mr. Zamora's mother courageously stood up to Ford to hold them accountable for a defective suspension system. Her actions are to be commended. Hopefully, these product liability lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other companies will convince them to improve their vehicles, making them safer for drivers and passengers alike."
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.