DeKalb, Texas, Lawsuit Against GM Highlights Auto Safety Standards
A recent personal injury lawsuit filed by DeKalb, Texas, resident Regina Matthews accused General Motors of negligently designing, manufacturing, assembling, marketing and testing their 2004 Chevrolet Venture minivans.
The Texas auto defect lawsuit is premised upon the fact that the airbag in Mrs. Matthews’ vehicle failed to deploy in a crash, causing her torso to slam into the steering column and inflicting numerous injuries. She further accuses the automotive giant of failing to ensure safety standards were met in the design of the seat belt she wore. She alleges that it failed to lock into place upon impact and prevent her body from being snapped forward with the momentum of the vehicle.
While Mrs. Matthews’ suit specifically involves an allegedly defective airbag and seatbelt restraint, – and is not directly tied to a widespread vehicle recall like the ones affecting the Toyota, Lexus and Pontiac brands – other high-profile automotive safety-related cases have involved sticking accelerators, defective brake mechanisms, faulty tires and improperly secured gas tanks.
Class action and individual claims for those auto defects have resulted in millions of dollars in damages and strengthening of vehicle safety laws around the country.
Components of an Auto Defect Claim
Nationwide automotive safety standards were first established in 1966 by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. (Since then, the law has been modified to provide for additional or different standards.)
The law gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – a division of the United States Department of Transportation – the power to set minimum safety standards for all vehicles and the authority to recall automobiles that don’t meet those standards. Since the law was first enacted, nearly 400 million cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles all across the country, including Texas, have been recalled because of unsafe conditions.
Due in no small part to cases brought around the country, a myriad of safety-related defects (defined by the NHTSA as “a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that poses a risk to safety and may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture”) have been brought to the attention of the NHTSA.
A claimant seeking to bring an auto defect case needs to pinpoint a particular design or manufacturing flaw that caused his or her injuries, show specific damages and prove how those damages were caused by the alleged defect.
Obviously, bringing a lawsuit against an automotive manufacturer or distributor is no small matter. The issue should be handled with great care and skill in order to have the best chance of success.