Motor Vehicle Defect Danger In 1996 Ford Explorer Due To Rollover Hazard
Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will admit that the 1996 Ford Explorer is a dangerous SUV because it is prone to rollover. In 1997, 17-year-old Lance Crossman Hall was reclining in the front passenger seat of a 1996 Ford Explorer and wearing his seat belt when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The driver attempted to regain control of the SUV, but a handling problem caused it to turn sideways. The SUV rolled over four times on State Road 93 near Naples. Hall was ejected from the car and died at the scene.
"The statistics for rollover crashes are truly alarming," noted nationally recognized auto product liability attorney John Bisnar. "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 61% of fatalities, or over 10,000 people, are killed annually in SUV rollover crashes. And more than half, 56 percent, of single-vehicle crash deaths resulted from rollovers."
Hall's family subsequently sued Ford in Florida. Their product liability attorney claimed Ford knew the Explorer was prone to roll-overs and failed to warn consumers about the vehicle's defects, adding that Ford knowingly continued to produce unsafe vehicles.
"The average auto buyer places his trust in a major car maker's ability to design and build a safe SUV, in this case, the Explorer," observed John Bisnar. "Ford's own internal design specs call for an SUV to slide out in an emergency handling situation, not roll over. Regrettably, the Explorer fails to meet Ford's own criteria. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a safety report in 2005, finding that Ford Explorer (the two-door, two-wheel drive models) made between 1999 and 2002 had the fourth highest rate of driver death of the 47 SUVs that were part of the study."
Ford blamed defective Firestone tires for the Explorer's handling and stability problems. Ford maintained that the tragic SUV accident occurred when the driver of the vehicle fell asleep at the wheel while traveling at highway speeds. They insisted that real-world experience and testing show that the Explorer is a safe vehicle, consistently performing as well as or better than other vehicles in its class.
"Once again, Ford refuses to admit liability for designing a potentially dangerous car, hiding behind the faulty tire excuse," said John Bisnar. "In this case, "real world experience" seems to conflict with Ford's assertion that its Explorer was safe as designed. As recently as 2006, a Ford Explorer rollover trial revealed evidence that indicated the Explorer was unstable not only on Firestone tires but also on tires made by Goodyear, Cooper, Michelin's Uniroyal, BF Goodrich, Kelly Springfield, Continental General and other tire manufacturers."
The Florida jury ordered Ford to pay more than $61 million to the Hall family--$1.2 million in damages, and $60 million for the pain and suffering of Hall and his mother, Joan Hall-Edwards. The jury found that Ford was liable in the car accident because it sold a vehicle with poor handling and stability. The driver of the Explorer was charged with careless driving. No punitive damages were ordered.
"The Halls are to be commended for confronting a major car maker like Ford," said Brian Chase of the nationally recognized auto defects law firm Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys. "Amidst the grief of a lost son, they went to court and held Ford accountable for designing an SUV that was obviously unsafe--failing even to meet its own safety design criteria. Our hope is that these auto product defect lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other automakers will convince them to improve their vehicles and make them safer for consumers."
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.