As cars become more technologically advanced, we often find ourselves becoming dependent on products that did not even exist a short time ago. Less than 10 years ago, a GPS navigation system, for example, was a luxury that not many people owned. Today, most drivers can’t remember the last time they looked at a paper map or directions printed from the internet. One of the technological advances becoming more commonplace on the average car is an onboard monitoring system that allows the driver to communicate with a dispatcher in the event of an emergency.
According to a recent news article from NBC 5 News, one driver is alleging that the onboard emergency system failed at a time when it was needed most. After being in a two-car crash, the driver’s airbag deployed violently and knocked his cell phone out of arms reach. He was trapped and in incredible pain inside his car in the middle of a major interstate highway.
He tried to speak with the operator at the car company’s emergency dispatch center, but he could not get any response. During the first six minutes following the accident, the recording indicated that he asked for help no less than 40 times. The driver told the operator that he was hurt and needed help, and that he could not hear any of the operator’s responses. After six minutes of this, the operator called the local emergency dispatch center to report the accident. A transcript of the call between the 911 operator and the car company operator revealed that the car company operator could not accurately describe the location of the car crash. Fortunately, several bystanders had dialed 911, and first responders were dispatched to the accident scene.
The victim filed a negligence lawsuit against the automaker, in which he alleged that the emergency system was defective. He also alleged that the company’s response time was not reasonable given the circumstances.
He claimed that the automaker’s attorney sent an email offering $1,000 for any inconvenience he may have suffered. Obviously, he still plans to proceed with his lawsuit.
Our car accident attorneys in Winston-Salem understand that cases involving claims of a manufacturing defect can involve complex litigation. One of the most important aspects of these cases will be the pretrial discovery process. The plaintiff’s attorney will be able to request documents from the automaker, including internal memos, vehicle service histories, service bulletins, customer complaints, test data, and any other documents related to the defective component.
If it can be established that the car company was aware of the defect and failed to warn drivers or take steps to correct the problem, this will be especially helpful with respect to settlement negotiations or to use as evidence at trial. Failure to adequately warn of a known danger is a type of negligence claim that can be raised in this situation. If the situation involved particularly negligent conduct and basically amounted to a complete disregard for the safety of customers, plaintiff’s attorney may be justified in making a demand for punitive damages in addition to standard compensatory damage claims.
Contact the Winston-Salem, North Carolina car accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Accident Victim Says In-Car Emergency Call System Failed Him, Sept. 23, 2014, NBC 5 News Chicago
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Vehicle Recall Compliance Aided By New NHTSA Technology, Sept 1, 2014, Winston-Salem Accident Lawyer Blog