California experiences many accidents every year. Most accidents occur as a result of negligence from other people, but some occur as a result of defective car body parts such as car door latches. Such situations can lead to severe injuries, especially if the faulty parts play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the vehicle’s occupants. Anyone who’s involved in such an accident should be compensated accordingly. We at the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm can help you in seeking compensation from the liable party.

Laws Related to Defective Car Door Latch in California

When it comes to injuries, several laws come into question. Here are the laws that are related to defective car door latches in California.

Lemon Law

The California Lemon law protects any consumer from a household, properties, and personal items that can be purchased or leased. Under this law, the manufacturers should replace or refund a product that their buyer has made numerous attempts to repair without any success. Under this law, the manufacturer is expected to do the following:

  • Provide enough repair facilities within California so that the consumer can easily access the facility when necessary

  • Make sure that any repair of defective goods do not last more than thirty days

  • Offer the consumer a refund or replacement fee minus the cost of the reduced value

  • Reimburse any amount that the consumer could have used with an attorney

When it comes to vehicles, the California Lemon law protects consumers who have leased or purchased new or used motor vehicles. If the seller or manufacturer cannot manage to repair a vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, then the car must be replaced or repurchased and reimburse the consumer every fee and cost that have resulted. The amount of money that the consumer can get depends on the severity of the defect.

Therefore, you can conclude that the California lemon laws can remedy a vehicle owner in the following way:

  • Repurchase the defective vehicle except for the trouble-free use value

  • Cash settlement

  • Replacement of the defective vehicle

  • Payment of all consumer’s attorney costs and fees

Please note, defective door latches are part of the aspects that the manufacturer of the supplier should compensate for. Therefore, the manufacturer or seller is responsible for the reimbursement if there are issues related to the door latch.

Product Liability Laws

Under California product liability laws, the manufacturer, designer, or seller, a defective product has strict liability for the injuries that result from the product. This applies even when the company or person in question is negligent of the problem at hand. In California, strict liability claims are imposed on three types of product defects, which include:

  • Design defects

  • Manufacturing defects

  • Warning defects

For a prosecutor to successfully prosecute one under these laws, he or she must prove several factors, which are known as the elements of the crime. In this case, the elements of the crime are as follows:

  • That the manufacturer or defendant is responsible in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the defective product

  • That the product in question had a defect when it the possession of the defendant

  • That the plaintiff or consumer used the product in a reasonable and foreseeable manner

  • The plaintiff or consumer suffered harm from the defect in the product in question

In most cases related to product liability laws, the term “strict liability” is often used. Under California law, if a product is quite dangerous than it should be, the maker, designer, or supplier of the product becomes strictly liable for the injuries that result from it. This only applies if it was used in a reasonably foreseeable way. Therefore, the responsible party must have done something with recklessness, gross negligence, or negligence.

Another common term used in describing product liability laws is “reasonably foreseeable.” In this case, the California laws describe a “reasonably foreseeable manner” in terms of anticipation of the level of use or misuse of a product that they manufacture. Therefore, if consumers use a product in a reasonably foreseeable manner and suffer injuries from its usage, the consumer becomes liable for those injuries. The risk might result from failing to inspect the product, inadequate warning, or design errors.

Facts about Defective Car Door Latch

Door latch defects are problems that are related to the locking mechanism of a vehicle. These problems usually happen when the door is closed. Some of the issues that are associated with defective car door latches include:

  • Sticking of the door while opening or closing

  • Needing to use a lot of force while opening or closing the door

  • Failure to close entirely when the door is being closed

Common Reasons Behind Car Door Latch Defectiveness

Although most car door latches defects are associated with old cars, there are several reasons related to new vehicles. The fault might result from the lack of sufficient test on the car locking system. In this case, car manufacturers might have failed to do adequate tests on the car locking mechanism before placing their vehicles in the market.

The problem might also result from design issues. This usually occurs in the auto plant fails to make reasonable quality checks to take note of poor craftsmanship. Other factors that might be the reason behind defective car door latches include:

  • Failure to meet the safety standards provided by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Services. According to this authority, a car should be able to hold an inertia load of 30Gs, which is thirty times more than normal gravity

  • Outdated technology used in the door latch system

Vehicle Recalls Associated with Defective Car Door Latches

Whenever a car manufacturer notices that there are defects with their vehicles, they have the mandate to recall the affected vehicles to avoid any damages that might result from the defectiveness. Let’s have a closer look at a few recent recalls.

  1. The Ford Recall

On 24th October 2017, General Motors recalled an approximate of 1.3 million vehicles due to a possible defective door latches. The campaign involved 2015 – 2017 Ford F- 150 trucks manufactured between 12th March 2104 and 30th December 2016. It also included 2017 Ford Super Duty pickups made between 8th October 2015 and 1st September 2016. The specific vehicles that were captured in the recall are:

  • 2013-15 Ford C-MAX

  • 2012-15 Ford Escape

  • 2013-15 Ford Focus

  • 2105 Ford Mustang

  • 2015 Lincoln MK

  • 2014-16 Ford Transit Connect

Nature of the Defect

The kind of defect that led to the recall involved proneness to water damage. This would cause freezing of the latches, deformation, and deterioration of the actuation cable. These issues would cause the latch to fail to engage with the striker, inhibiting closure of the door. As a result, this kind of safety hazard led to serious safety concerns for the vehicle occupants, especially during an accident. However, according to General Motors’ press release, there is no wreckage or injuries associated with the defect yet.

The Solution

General Motors directed direct dealers to install water shields on the defective door latches as a way to handle the issue at hand. Dealers were also expected to inspect the actuation cables and replace them if necessary. Both repairs were supposed to be done without any charges to the consumers.

  1. The Volvo Recall

Although Volvo is considered one of the safest vehicles in the world, it also has its share of recall when it comes to door latches. On 16th December 2019, Volvo recalled a select of 2011-2017 V60 and S60 models. A total of 144,937 vehicles were involved in the recall, which includes the S60, S60L, S60 Cross Country, and their V 60 counterparts.

Nature of the Defect

According to the press release, Volvo realized that the door latches of their affected model would break due to scorching weather. Therefore, the door would appear to be closed, whereas, in the real sense, it is still open. This would possibly lead to an accident, especially while driving, although there are no reports about the same.

The Fix

Volvo has directed that they will redesign the door latches in all the four doors of the affected vehicles. They expect to contact owners of the vehicle by 24th January 2020 and give them directions about the solution.

  1. The Range Rover Recall

The range rover is known as a famous luxury vehicle manufacturer in the world. In June 2019, Land Rover recalled an approximate of 65,385 Range Rovers Sports produced between 2014 and 2016 due to a car door latch-related problem.

Nature of the Defect

The defect that led to the recall involved the Keyless Vehicle Latching System (KV Latch), which was feared not to be working correctly. With this problem, the doors of the vehicle seemed to be closed but were unlatched.

The Solution

Land Rover announced that they would inspect all vehicles with the locking system and determine if there are problems related to it. They will choose whether to disable the system if necessary or update the system without charging the owner. The recall was expected to start as of 19th July 2019.

  1. The Mitsubishi Recall

On 15th April 2017, Mitsubishi issued a recall of all the 2016 Outlander and Outlander Sports SUVs that might be experiencing problems with the door.

Details about the Problem

According to NHTSA, the latch element supplied by the Japanese company Ansei Corporation was the leading cause of the problem. The element would inhibit the latch from remaining fastened when exposed to warm weather. This might be as a result of an error in the dimension of the element during its manufacture. Thankfully, there were no accidents associated with this defect.

The Fix

Mitsubishi announced that they would replace all the affected latches at no cost. Therefore, customers were expected to schedule services with their local dealership to have the latches replaced at no charges.

  1. The Mazda Recall

In September 2013, Mazda announced a recall of their Mazda 6 models that were produced from 2009 -2013. Approximately 161,000 vehicles were affected in the recall.

The Problem

The problem involved loose mounting screws found in the door latches loosening the door. As a result, the door could not hold properly and would open unexpectedly while the car is moving.

The Fix

Mazda announced that their dealers would fix the screws with an adhesive without any charges on the consumer. The recall was intended to begin on 18th October 2013.

Types of Injuries that Result from Defective Car Door Latch

It is rare to experience any accidents related to defective car door latches. However, if such an accident happens, it might contribute to severe injuries to the vehicle’s occupant. Also, a faulty door latch would affect the car crashworthiness, which means the ability of a vehicle to sustain a crash and protect its occupants.

If a vehicle with faulty door latches gets involved in a crash, the door might throw open and eject the occupants, putting them under significant risk. There are high chances of experiencing severe injuries and death. Some of the common types of injuries that might result from such an incident include:

  • Brain injuries

  • Scarring and disfigurement

  • Bone fractures

  • Secondary infection

  • Paralysis

  • Crush injury syndrome

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Chest injuries

  • Compartment syndrome

  • Laceration

  • Neck injuries

Recoverable Damages in a Defective Car Door Latch Case

Once you have managed to prove the relationship between the defective door latches and your injuries, the liable party will have to compensate for the costs incurred. These costs are referred to as damages. In personal injury lawsuits, there are two types of injuries. This includes compensatory and punitive damages. Let’s have a closer look on these damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages represent the monetary compensation that is awarded to a plaintiff. These types of damages are divided into two, which include economic and non-economic options. Economic damages are those that one can put a financial value on. It means that it is easy to determine the value of the amount that one has to be compensated. These damages are as follows:

  • Medical expenses, which include doctor’s fees, psychiatric counseling, medical treatment, surgeries, x-rays, and occupational therapy

  • Lost wages and benefits

  • Replacement services

  • property loss

On the other hand, non-economic damages involve those kinds of damages that a plaintiff cannot put a financial value on. These includes:

  • Loss of consortium

  • Lost earning capacity

  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional distress

  • Loss of enjoyment

Punitive Damages

If the defendant’s conduct is considered as egregious or outrageously careless, the plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages on top of compensatory damages. These kinds of damages are meant to punish the defendant for the negligence and warn other people or companies related to their practice.

In the case of a defective car door latch, the court might be prompted to award punitive damages if there is a reasonable belief that the manufacturer knew about the defect and decided to ignore it.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is brought forward if the victim has died as a result of the injuries or accidents related to the defective car product. The claim can be brought forward by a family member of the deceased such as the spouse, children, or anyone standing on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

In this kind of claim, the plaintiff can recover damages such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses

  • Pain and suffering which the deceased suffered before death

  • Loss of consortium

  • Loss of companionship, love, and advisement

  • Mental anguish resulting from the death

Liability in Defective Car Door Latch Cases

If you proceed into filing a lawsuit, you need to identify the potential defendant of your case. In a defective car product case, the possible defendants include everyone involved in the chain of distribution of the causative vehicle. The chain of distribution can be explained as the path that the car took from its manufacture until it reaches the consumer. Let’s have a closer look at the potential defendants in your case.


The manufacturer is a big company and usually takes the lion’s share in the blame. This is the parent company that is involved in the manufacture of a specific vehicle model. Please note, some of the manufacturers’ name is not similar to the name of the vehicle model. For instance, the parent company involved in the manufacture of Ford vehicles is General Motors.

Parts Manufacturers

If your lawsuit involves a specific vehicle part, there are high chances that a different manufacturer makes the part. In such a case, you should hold both the manufacturer and parts manufacturers liable for the injuries. However, if you bought the defective part separately, the defective product does not stand in your lawsuit.

Automotive Supply Shop or Car Dealership

The person or company that sold you your vehicle with the defective part is liable for the damages. This applies even if you were not the actual buyer as long as one is associated with the vehicle supply.

Shipper or Middleman

This involves any middleman or shipper whose part of the chain of distributor between the manufacturer and you. They should also be held liable for the damages that you have suffered as a result of the defective car door latch.

Proving Liability in a Defective Car Door Latch Case

As described earlier, there are things that you need to prove in a product liability case. Now, let’s look at these aspects in a closer way.

Prove that you Suffered Losses or Were Injured as a Result of the Defective Product

You might experience every horrible thing after an accident, but a possible lawsuit is not worth it if you do not suffer any monetary loss (damages) or injuries. This is a crucial element of your case that must be proven in court. Therefore, any damages or injuries that you suffer must be directly associated with the accident that resulted from the defective car door latch.

The Car Door Latch was Defective

You must also prove that the car door latch was defective, and because of the error, you suffered injuries, to make your lawsuit credible enough.

Error of Manufacturing

It is easier to claim if a particular product is defective based on the fault of its manufacture. This usually results from its make material or design flaws. If a product is in the market, it means that it passed inspection and cleared for shipping. In that case, it requires a thorough investigation to trace back the issue back to the manufacturing process.

Failure to Warn

If the manufacturer of the defective product fails to warn consumers about the issue, you can hold them liable for your damages. In the case of a faulty car door latch, if the parent companies fail to warn about the defective and end up causing injuries to you, the company remains liable for the issue at hand.

Statute of Limitations for Defective Car Door Latch Cases in California

The statute of limitations is a timeframe that a person has to file a case in court. In California, the statute of limitations for cases related to product liability is two years since the injury was discovered.

Besides the two years that the plaintiff has to bring forth in an injury-related case, one can also recover property damages from the lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations for personal property (in this case, the car) is three years from the date of the loss.

Find a San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me

Personal injury lawsuits that involve defective products have a lot of complexities. It can be hard for anyone to handle this kind of case without the help of a personal injury attorney. There are lots of attorneys that one can choose from, but only a few who can manage to offer services as expected. San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm has maintained the reputation of providing quality services to its clients within San Diego, CA. Contact us today at 619-478-4059 and let us handle your case.