Product makers have one of the highest duties in Illinois law. If a defective product causes an injury, the manufacturer is usually strictly liable for compensatory damages, like medical bills and emotional distress.
In many cases, such as ones highlighted below, company officials acted with callous indifference to public safety. In many situations, these companies keep selling products they knew to be dangerous to increase sales, a classic case of putting profits before people.
Although the law is on the victim’s side, a large company has a posse of lawyers who have only one mission. They are determined to reduce or deny compensation, so, a victim needs an aggressive Rockford personal injury attorney. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to obtain fair compensation.
The two case studies below set forth two kinds of product defects. In both these situations, victims need only prove cause in order to obtain compensation for their injuries.
Design Defect: Ford Pinto
In the early 1970s, Ford faced intense competition from other vehicle manufacturers who made small, cheap cars. Company engineers set out to design a small, cheap car of their own. Lee Iacocca, the Ford chairman at the time, supposedly said the car should cost no more than $2,000 and not weigh any more than 2,000 pounds.
The Pinto was the result. To save weight, engineers placed the gas tank behind the rear axle. So, it was prone to leaking and exploding, even in a relatively low-speed crash. To save money, engineers did not put a safety lining around the exposed tank, even though the fix would have only cost a few dollars per vehicle.
That’s an example of a design defect. The Pinto was unsafe and should have never been made without modifications. An internal memo came to light during this time period where a worker calculated it would cost Ford more money to fix the Pinto than it would to pay lawsuit settlements. In other words, a human life was not as valuable as an inexpensive Pinto.
Manufacturing Defect: Takata Air Bags
About the same time, airbags first appeared in cars sold in the United States. For many years, Takata, a Japanese company, provided most of the airbags found in vehicles around the world. These devices have saved many lives. They quickly inflate in the event of a crash.
Balance is key. If the airbag inflates too slowly, it does not protect the driver. If it inflates too quickly, it explodes, showing the driver with dangerous shrapnel.
At first, Takata used potassium nitrate as a propellant. This substance inflated airbags at the right speed, but was expensive and, executives switch to cheaper ammonium nitrate. This is basically the same compound that Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City truck bomb. As a result, many airbags exploded, especially in high temperature and humidity environments.
That’s an example of a manufacturing defect. Airbags are safe, but Takata’s airbags were dangerous. The resulting fines and lawsuits forced the company into bankruptcy. Even today, millions of drivers still operate vehicles with possibly defective airbags.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
Defective products often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.