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Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 1995 Mustang Faulty Airbag

Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will admit that defective airbags can lead to fatal personal injuries. Lydia Ramos placed her two-year-old daughter, Samantha Roblez, in a forward-facing child seat in the front seat of her 1995 Mustang. She had no idea how dangerous her actions would be. When Ramos hit another car that had stopped in front of her, the impact was fairly low--less than 14 mph--yet the car accident cased the Mustang's airbag's to be deployed with such force that it severed Samantha's spine, leaving her a respirator-dependant quadriplegic.

Ramos subsequently sued Ford. Her auto product liability attorney alleged that the Mustang's mid-mounted, horizontally deploying airbag, Ford's low deployment threshold, and the improperly placed sensors all contributed to Samantha's tragic, life-altering personal injury. The airbag had deployed in a car crash that caused only minor damage to the Mustang.

"As far back as 1995, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was investigating five child deaths blamed on defective air bags exploding with excessive force," noted nationally recognized product liability attorney, John Bisnar. "The agency then began re-evaluating its airbag regulations. In early 1997, NHTSA decided that by model year 1998, automakers would have to reduce the inflation power in driver and passenger air bags. Regrettably, millions of cars on the road today still have higher-powered bags. Since 2001, the number of deaths involving failed airbags has gone up about 50 percent. And in 2006, there was a 14 percent increase in such fatalities."

During trial, jurors learned that airbags in Ford's European cars are designed to deploy only in severe car collisions, above 18.6 miles per hour. Experts put Ramos' impact speed at below Ford's 8-14 mph deployment threshold. Ford's experts placed the speed at 9.5 to 11 mph. Ford had no engineering, scientific or medical basis for its lower 8-14 mph airbag deployment threshold. At trial, Joseph Wills, a Ford engineer, acknowledged that "Ford does not design its airbags to protect children." A Ford spokeswoman insisted that Ramos had disregarded the air bag's warning and had not properly buckled in her daughter.

"Some airbag systems are designed with overly-powerful inflators," observed John Bisnar. These air bags inflate at speeds up to 200 miles per hour--faster than the blink of an eye. That blast of energy can severely hurt or kill children 12 and under who are too close to the air bag during inflation. The problem in many cases lies with a "one size fits all" design that produced extremely forceful airbag inflations to accommodate heavy adult occupants. Safer multi-force inflators were later implemented in many newer airbag systems. There are also techniques that allow airbags to be sequentially inflated in stages, using multi-chamber designs, instead of a single, dangerously powerful burst."

Following the two-week trial, Ford was ordered to pay $2.8 million in compensatory damages to Ramos. The jury's original $20 million award was reduced due to Ramos' complicity in causing the car accident. Under a pretrial agreement, there was no appeal.

"Ms. Ramos, under tremendous emotional pain, acted responsibly to confront a giant car maker," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys auto defects law firm. "Holding Ford accountable for a preventable tragedy is to be commended. Our hope is that these lawsuits, and the many defective product lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other automakers will convince them to design safer air bag deployment systems and prevent others from being seriously injured or killed."

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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