En Español

Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 1996 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer Weak Roof Danger

Most motor defect attorneys will admit that the weak car roof on 1996 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer is a danger to passengers. In 1997, Penny Shipler, a waitress and single mother, accepted a ride home from work from a friend, Kenneth Long. During the drive on a rural Nebraska highway, Long lost control of his 1996 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer and it rolled several times. Shipler's spine was crushed when the SUV's roof collapsed around her in the car accident.

Paralyzed from the neck down, Shipler and her 10-year-old son were forced to live on about $800 a month in Social Security payments, disability checks and food stamps. Shipler's auto product liability attorney estimated that her medical care and assistance would cost $10 million, saying she was in desperate need of money.

Shipler filed a defective products liability lawsuit against GM, her auto defect attorney alleging that the strength of the Blazer's roof was inadequate to protect Shipler. He specifically pointed to the fact that the Blazer's roof had crushed down an estimated eight inches on the passenger side where Shipler was sitting.

Vehicle roof strength continues to be one of the major bones of contention in the automotive safety. According to federal statistics, an estimated 7,000 people are killed or severely injured annually in roof-crush rollovers. The federal standard for vehicle-roof strength originated in 1971, when there were far more passenger cars than rollover-prone light trucks and SUVs.

GM and other automakers have long insisted that crushed roofs don't cause personal injuries. But mounting pressure from auto-safety groups prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to propose new roof-strength standards. The new standard extended roof-strength requirements from vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds to those weighing up to 10,000 pounds. The new rule would also stipulate that SUV vehicle roofs withstand greater pressure in federal testing. In many cases, increasing an SUV's roof strength amounted to little more than adding a stronger pillar, which cost the automaker just a few dollars extra per vehicle.

GM sought to introduce evidence that Long and Shipler had been drinking alcohol before the car accident. And that Shipler may have improperly used her seat belt. But the court barred such evidence, insisting that the case fell under the rules of "strict liability" regarding the ability of the S-10 Blazer to protect its occupants.

The jury sided with Shipler, blaming GM's Blazer for a roof design that inadequately protected its occupants in a rollover accident. They awarded her $18.6 million.

GM appealed, but the Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously upheld the $18.6 million jury award--one of the largest court judgments linking vehicle roof-strength to severe personal injuries in rollover crashes. The court's 47-page opinion rejected all of GM's claims against the trial court--including claims that the decision was emotionally driven and that it was too excessive.

"Once again, a giant automaker tried to avoid taking responsibility for designing an SUV that was clearly not crashworthy," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized auto defects law firm of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys. "Ms. Shipler did the right thing in taking GM to court, showing that our justice system does work to protect those who have been unjustly injured. The jury's award is America's message to GM that their failure to act was not acceptable. Hopefully, this motor vehicle defects lawsuit will help convince GM to respond promptly and effectively to known safety defects to prevent the kind of life-altering injuries sustained by Ms. Shipler."

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.

Have a question that wasn't answered here?

CALL US!
(800) 561-4887

Was This Page Helpful? Yes | No

Client Reviews of Bisnar Chase

“I knew Bisnar Chase would help me. Your law firm is excellent and makes me wish I could work there!”

by Cynthia

reviewed at Super Pages

“While my wrongful death case is still being decided I really love how this firm cares for the people they represent I feel so much better after talking with Doug on a monthly basis he reassures me things will be okay. Looking for to ending this real soon but I am very thankful to Bisnar and Chase for all they do!”

by Karla Hawley

reviewed at Facebook

“This was not my first accident, Bisnar Chase handled what I definitely didn't want to deal with. Thank you for your professionalism, and for getting my case settled.”

by Krystal Mead

reviewed at Facebook

See All Ratings And Awards

The BISNAR CHASE Difference

  • “I was in a serious auto accident when I was in law school. I had to hire a personal injury attorney and had a really bad experience.”

    John Bisnar

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “If you hire Bisnar | Chase and we don't recover money for you in your case, you owe us absolutely nothing.”

    Brian Chase

    on whether or not you would owe money if your case was lost

  • “Whatever the philosphy of the management is, is going to be carried through by the employees and it’s going to reflect on the experience the clients have.”

    John Bisnar

    on his philosophy on running a law firm

  • “The insurance companies are going to be investigating that accident the day it happens. You need to have a lawyer on your side the day it happens as well.”

    Brian Chase

    on when you should contact an attorney

  • “The first thing we want to do with our clients is to relieve the stress. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as an honored guest.”

    John Bisnar

    on how he would define superior client representation

  • “It's hard to answer that question right up front without a thorough analysis. What I can guarantee you is, with the resources of Bisnar | Chase we will maximize the value of your case.”

    Brian Chase

    on what your case is worth

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
1301 Dove St #120
Newport Beach, CA 92660

local: (949) 203-3814
Get Directions

California Personal Injury Blog