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Motor Vehicle Defects Blamed For 1997 Ford F-150 SuperCab Pickup's Faulty Door Latches

Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will agree that the 1997 Ford F-150 door latches is an accident waiting to happen. In 2001, 35-year-old Deborah Seliner was driving her 1997 Ford F-150 pickup along Highway 6 near College Station, Texas when her trucks rear tire blew out, sending it off the road onto a grassy divider. The truck rolled over, ejected her through the open driver's side door (even though she had apparently been wearing her seat belt), and hurled her 20 yards onto the pavement.

Her personal injuries were severe. Paralyzed from the mid-chest down and confined to a wheelchair, the single mother became a quadriplegic, struggling to care for her son, Tristen, 4, and daughter, Lilly, 3. She continued to suffer from multiple medical problems as a result of her personal injury. Her medical expenses came to $389,633. Tristin and Lilly Marie sought damages for the loss of parental consortium (the positive benefits flowing from the parent's love, affection, protection, emotional support, services, companionship, care, and society). This terrible loss will be suffered for the balance of their lives.

Seliner filed a product liability lawsuit against Ford, seeking recovery for pain, injury and suffering caused by an auto defect one doesn't read about every day--defective door latches. Seliner's auto product liability attorney alleged that Ford's poorly designed latches fail to keep doors closed (in this case the F-150's driver's side door) during a foreseeable rollover car accident. This failure was due to Ford's use of rod linkage (instead of cable) between the door latch and the handle and that the rod was compressed or shortened during the pickup truck accident, thereby releasing the latch. It was also alleged that the door handle had a defective car spring that failed to provide adequate tension on the outside handle, so that just a small amount of force would have been required to open the door. Ms. Seliner's product liability attorney concluded that there was nothing else to explain why the door flew open.

Motor vehicle defect lawyer's for Ford countered, saying, "the doors are safe and fully comply with all applicable government and industry standards." Yet Ford has settled five other motor vehicle defect lawsuits involving deaths and serious personal injuries involving faulty door latches. Internal company records brought to light in these lawsuits revealed that Ford had ordered and installed substandard door handle springs on up to 4.1 million F-Series trucks as well as on Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs on its 1997 to 2000 models. Regrettably, Ford chose not to recall or report these problems to the federal government.

"A auto product defect with this kind of track record certainly would have warranted a report to the NHTSA," observed nationally recognized auto product liability lawyer, John Bisnar. "Ford documents uncovered in the Seliner lawsuit and others indicate that this problem had quite a history. Even Transport Canada, a Canadian vehicle safety agency, warned Ford that a 20-mph impact test on its Ford F-150 pickup resulted in the passenger's door being flung open."

It's no wonder the case settled for an undisclosed sum 30 days before trial.

"This case underscores an automaker's tendency to hide behind often lax government auto safety standards," noted Brian Chase of the nationally recognized auto defects attorneys of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys. "One can't help but admire Deborah Seliner's inner strength in pursuing a giant car maker like Ford. They need to be held accountable for faulty parts that can and have caused series personal injuries. Hopefully, these motor vehicle defect lawsuits, and the many defective product lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other automakers will convince them to improve their safety features."

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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