A Dodge Ram 2014 pickup truck on the assembly line in a file photo. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has issued a vehicle defect recall for about 1 million Ram pickup trucks in the United States and more than 200,000 in Canada due to a computer issue that could render side airbags and seatbelts ineffective in the event of a rollover accident. According to a USA Today report, the automaker has attributed one fatality, two injuries and two car accidents to this auto defect issue. Details of the accidents were not provided in the company’s recall announcement.
The affected trucks include certain 2013 to 2016 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups and 2014 to 2016 Ram 3500 pickups. Chrysler said if the trucks in question experience a significant underbody impact (which could occur during a rollover crash), their computer modules could erroneously conclude that the sensor has failed, and activate an instrument-cluster warning light.
This could result in the side airbag and seatbelt pretensioner being disabled temporarily. This could of course mean that the seatbelt and airbag won’t protect vehicle occupants during a rollover crash. Pretensioners reduce seatbelt slack during accidents thereby reducing forward movement of the occupant’s head and torso.
The Danger of Rollover Crashes
Rollover crashes may happen infrequently compared to other types of crashes, but they are deadly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), vehicles roll over in 2 percent of all crashes, but these crashes account for more than a third of passenger vehicle occupant deaths. Vehicle safety features such as electronic stability control make a vehicle less likely to roll over. Stronger roofs also protect occupants in the event of rollover crashes by reducing the risk of a fatal or incapacitating injury when a vehicle rolls over.
Injuries and Liability Issues
In the case of these Ram pickup defects, the computer glitch renders both the side airbag and the seatbelt ineffective. This could result in occupants getting ejected from the vehicle or suffering other types of severe trauma that could have catastrophic consequences. Vehicle occupants may suffer injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma including paralysis, multiple broken bones and internal organ trauma.
Injured victims of defective autos can seek compensation for damages by filing a product liability lawsuit. Victims can seek damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims or families of victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced auto product liability attorney who will fight for their rights and help ensure that they receive maximum compensation for their losses.