Los Angeles Auto Defects Attorney
Defective cars and car parts pose an ever-present danger to drivers and passengers on U.S. roads. A recent nationwide study of automotive safety recalls reported that in 2014, 46 million cars in the United States had at least one open safety recall. Five million of those cars drove primarily in California. Alarming as those figures are, they do not even capture the extent of the problem, because they only represent known auto defects. Many more vehicles with unknown defects operate on our highways today.
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we represent victims of auto defects and their families. Many of our clients have sustained catastrophic injuries or have family members who died in accidents caused by defective cars and car parts. Our firm has the skill, experience, and resources to handle the most complicated and difficult-to-prove cases. That is one reason why Best Lawyers in America voted us the #1 Personal Injury Firm in California, and our colleagues at other firms across the country routinely refer their clients with the most challenging auto defect matters to us.
If you or someone you love sustained a catastrophic injury or wrongful death in an accident caused by a defective automobile or auto part, or you represent a client in that situation and need help investigating and litigating the matter, the skilled auto defects attorneys at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, may be able to help. Contact us online or by phone at (310) 576-1200 to talk to a member of our team.
Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s Results in Auto Defect Cases
The team at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, has extensive experience investigating and litigating complex, catastrophic personal injury matters involving auto defects. Our firm has secured more multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our partners than any other personal injury law firm in California. One of our attorneys, Christine Spagnoli, was an integral member of the trial team that secured one of the largest individual product liability verdicts in U.S. history—$4.9 billion—on behalf of two adults and four children who sustained severe burn injuries caused by a defective fuel tank.
Some of our other successes in auto defect cases include:
- A $73 million verdict against Ford Motor company for victims of a rollover accident caused by defective tires.
- A $5.3 million verdict against Isuzu for the victim of a rollover accident who suffered a leg amputation and head injury because of a defective seatbelt.
- A $2.5 million settlement when two children burned to death in a truck after a defective filler neck and gas cap caused the vehicle to burst into flames.
- A $2.5 million verdict against General Motors for a man who suffered severe burns as a result of the company not providing adequate warnings about priming the vehicle’s carburetor with gasoline.
- A $2 million settlement for a victim who sustained severe burns from a defective filler neck system and weak body frame construction.
These results do not guarantee an outcome in any particular case. Our team can guarantee, however, that when we take a client in an auto defect case, we work diligently to attain the best possible outcome.
An Overview of the Law of Auto Defects
The law of defective products varies among states, but most, including California, divide legally actionable defects into three categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and information (or warning) defects.
- Design defects in automobiles or auto car parts occur when manufacturers design their products in such a way as to make them unreasonably dangerous under normal operating conditions. In many cases, design defects in cars and car parts are not discovered until some time after a manufacturer has released a particular model of a vehicle. Some consumers choose not to buy cars in their first year of production for fear of such design defects. The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (2018) of motor vehicles reports that about two-thirds of problems that owners experience in the first 90 days of buying a new vehicle are design defects, and dealerships only give proper attention to fixing these design flaws when vehicles malfunction.
- Manufacturing defects occur during the assembly stage of a car or when associated parts are manufactured. In these cases, the design may have been safe, but something went wrong when building the car that resulted in a hazardous product. Manufacturing defects might result from malfunctioning machinery, poor materials, or an error made by a worker(s) at a car manufacturing plant. They might also occur during shipping or at the dealership. In a past case, Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, secured compensation for a victim who was hurt because of weak welds that were supposed to hold the body frame of the car together; this is an example of a manufacturing defect.
- Information (or warning) defects typically refer to two separate potential issues. In one case, relevant parties did not provide adequate warnings about the dangerous aspects of a vehicle or dangerous aspects of a particular part of a vehicle. In other cases, relevant parties did not offer the consumer proper instructions about how to use certain aspects of a car. In a recent case where we represented a client in a suit against General Motors (GM), the court found GM liable for damages because it didn’t warn consumers about the hazards involved with priming a vehicle’s carburetor with gas.
Manufacturers’ Minimum Legal Responsibilities
Under Federal law (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has authority to issue motor vehicle safety standards to automotive manufacturers. The NHTSA also has the authority to force auto companies to issue recalls when it learns about safety-related defects in cars or car parts. The NHTSA-issued Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards have minimum performance requirements for the parts of the vehicle that contribute to safe operation, including brakes, tires, and lighting systems. Minimum performance requirements also exist for parts that prevent fatalities and catastrophic injuries during an accident, such as airbags and seatbelts.
In many cases, auto companies and auto parts manufacturers recall cars without government intervention when they discover a defect, but in some cases, the NHTSA must prompt action. The NHTSA requires a recall when an automobile or one of its parts doesn’t comply with one or more of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or when a safety-related defect is found in the vehicle or one of its components.
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we keep apprised of NHTSA recalls and enforcement actions, which may signal that a manufacturer has made decisions that put drivers and passengers at risk of catastrophic injury or death.
The Types of Auto Defect Cases We Handle
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we represent clients in complex cases that involve catastrophic injuries sustained in accidents caused by defective motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts. We also represent surviving family members of those who died a wrongful death in an accident caused by an auto defect. Oftentimes, our clients were involved in large, multi-vehicle or multi-casualty accidents that attracted media and regulatory attention. Our firm is one of very few nationwide with the experience, knowledge base, and resources to investigate and litigate the most complicated, catastrophic auto defect matters.
Accidents caused by auto defects result in a wide array of injuries, including the most catastrophic injuries that our clients have suffered, such as paralysis or the amputation of a limb.
Some defective automobile parts have greater potential to cause catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Here are several we have handled:
- Defective steering parts that malfunction and cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle
- Defective fuel systems and parts, especially those that leak and might lead to fires
- Defective accelerator controls that break or stick and might result in the loss of vehicle control
- Defective wheels that result in a loss of vehicle control
- Defective seat assemblies that have broken during normal use, causing distraction or loss of vehicle control
- Critical automobile components that break, crumble, or separate from the rest of the vehicle, causing loss of control
- Faulty electrical systems or wiring that result in fires
- Faulty airbags that deploy unexpectedly
Potentially Liable Parties in Auto Defect Matters
Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, handles highly complex auto defect cases. They may involve difficult-to-determine failure modes and complicated questions of design engineering. As a result, numerous parties may potentially bear legal liability for a defect. They may include:
- Manufacturers have an obligation to ensure their products are not unreasonably safe to use under normal operating conditions, either because of a design, manufacturing, or information defect. When they fail to do so, they may face strict liability for the catastrophic injuries and wrongful death their products caused.
- Wholesalers and shippers may have a duty to take care not to damage cars and car parts after they take delivery of them from a manufacturer. Under certain circumstances, when a wholesaler or shipper acts negligently or recklessly in storing and transporting automobiles and auto parts, they may face liability for the harm those defective products cause consumers.
- Car dealerships, depending on the state where they operate and the circumstances of a buyer transaction, may face liability when a defective car or car part they sold causes catastrophic injury or wrongful death on the road. In addition, if the dealership makes certain promises about the suitability or performance of a car, or damages or makes alterations to a car without telling the consumer, it may face additional liability.
- Auto parts retailers, like any retailers, have a duty not to sell unsafe products. If a retailer has improperly stored a car part so as to make it dangerous for use, for example, it may face liability to the consumer who purchases and uses that part in the car, resulting in a catastrophic accident.
Individual Representations in Auto Defect Matters
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we are uniquely suited to represent auto defect victims and their families individually. Proceeding individually, instead of as a class, may be in our clients’ best interests when, for example:
- Our client’s particular circumstances differ from those of the class. To sustain a class action, lawyers for the class must demonstrate commonality among its members. Some victims of auto defects, however, sustained catastrophic injuries or wrongful death from auto defects in a more different than similar manner than the typical class member.
- The defect is unique. Sometimes, especially in the case of manufacturing defects, a one-off product failure might make proceeding as a class untenable under the law and more suited to our client seeking compensation on an individual basis.
- The number of injured victims is limited. Similar to the uniqueness of a defect, in instances in which only a limited number of victims have suffered catastrophic injury or wrongful death, victims may not find it possible or advisable to seek justice as a class.
In every auto defect case we handle at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we use our experience and resources to advise our clients on the path forward that best suits their interests.
Steps We Encourage Potential Clients and Their Counsel to Take After an Auto Defect Causes Catastrophic Injury or Wrongful Death
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our skilled, compassionate team of investigators and trial lawyers knows the top priority for anyone catastrophically injured in an auto accident is to seek immediate and appropriate medical attention. Likewise, family members whose loved one died in an auto accident must first attend to the process grieving and resolving their loved one’s affairs. It is only after those initial steps that many of our clients seek the help of an attorney.
After having taken those necessary actions, we encourage anyone who has suffered catastrophic injury or wrongful death in an auto accident that a defective car or car part may have caused to contact the team at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, as soon as possible. We have a uniquely strong and capable mix of investigators and litigators on staff, but they cannot swing into action until a potential client finds his or her way to us. The sooner we can get started investigating a tragic automotive failure, the greater the likelihood of a successful outcome for our clients.
It is a testament to Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s capabilities that our fellow lawyers refer matters to us. Many of our colleagues in the plaintiff’s personal injury bar reach out when it becomes clear a client’s needs exceed their own ability to render effective representation. In some cases, we have felt honored to team up with lawyers from other firms in automotive product defect matters.
Liability Insurance and Automotive Defect Matters
In any case involving an auto accident, auto liability insurance carriers may have a role in paying compensation to victims. In complex automotive defect matters involving multiple parties and victims, the cross-currents of interests and motivations for those insurers can become especially complicated. The attorneys at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, have years of experience navigating these at-time treacherous waters on behalf of our clients.
Oftentimes, our potential clients have significant financial needs after sustaining catastrophic injuries in or losing a loved one to a motor vehicle accident. The temptation is strong for them to accept quick settlement offers from insurers, just to alleviate the financial pressures of losing family income and facing mounting medical bills. Difficult as it might seem, we encourage our potential clients not to accept any such offers before speaking with a qualified attorney who understands and can explain the potential consequences of entering into a settlement with an insurance carrier.
Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney with a track record of success representing victims of catastrophic injury and wrongful death can prove especially important in automotive defect cases, where the defendants’ potential liability exposure may grow to many multiples of the economic damages suffered by one particular victim—or what they initially offer to settle a case. At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we have the deep resources to investigate and litigate the causes and potential economic consequences of automotive defects, giving our clients a strong advantage in negotiations with insurance companies and opposing attorneys.
Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s Advantage in Auto Defect Matters
We owe our record of success at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, to our diligent commitment to seek the best outcome for our clients, no matter how devastating their injuries or complicated the facts and circumstances of what led to them. Our ultimate goal is the maximization of the likelihood of recovering compensation that will help our clients recover and know that justice was done.
We approach our commitment to our clients by following a process designed to uncover the facts needed to win a case at trial. Our distinctive approach, coupled with our award-winning legal team, has resulted in our colleagues in the California legal community relying on us to handle the most complex auto defect cases. Some of the ways our firm’s unique talents and resources can help clients recover from a catastrophic injury or wrongful death may include:
Our Ability to Conduct a Thorough Investigation of an Accident
At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we believe that in any personal injury matter, the facts come first. We bring a compassionate, detail-oriented approach to investigating every facet of our clients’ cases. Few of the matters we handle at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, are straightforward. Instead, we tend to tackle the most factually complex personal injury matters that most firms lack the abilities and resources to investigate and litigate. Our team of top-flight attorneys draws from years of experience to identify key facts that merit investigation, including those that might blunt potential arguments from the defense.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we have invested in our own in-house investigative resources that give our attorneys a leg up in exploring and arguing auto defect cases. We employ our own staff of accident investigators who have the experience necessary to investigate these matters. The methodical approach to investigating and analyzing evidence by our firm can make a meaningful impact on the outcome of our clients’ cases.
Our Network of Leading Experts in Their Fields
The evidence-gathering and fact-finding missions of an automotive defect matter frequently involve consulting with leading experts in the fields of engineering and materials sciences. Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, works with numeroushigh-end specialists who aid in translating scientific theories into tangible proof of how defective automotive parts failed and caused catastrophic injury or death. We also regularly add accident reconstruction specialists, forensic examiners, medical professionals, and economists to our teams to help our attorneys demonstrate the mechanics and consequences of an accident, as well as the economic impact on the victims.
Our Experience in Negotiating the Settlement of Complex Matters
In the large, complicated, high-dollar matters Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, often handles, automobile manufacturers, auto part manufacturers, or any other potentially liable party, and their insurance carriers, will go the extra mile to resist admitting liability or acknowledging the true scope of potential damages. Having successfully negotiated the favorable resolutions of hundreds of personal injury matters, our team knows and plans ahead for the twists and turns of these discussions. Our reputation as successful trial attorneys also serves our clients well. When we enter an appearance in an automotive defect matter, our opponents know we are a team that has consistently taken similarly complex matters to trial. They also know we are a firm that only represents plaintiffs in the most challenging matters, and if we’ve put our reputation and resources behind a client, we believe we can win.
Our Results at Trial
When pretrial negotiations fail to yield an acceptable outcome for our clients, the aggressive, respected litigators at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, head to court. Collectively, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict in courtrooms across California and around the nation. As our reputation among our colleagues and in the legal community attests, we do some of our best work on our feet in front of judges and juries. Not only does our team feature some of the top trial attorneys in the nation, we enjoy the support of a staff of investigators and paralegal professionals that understands the most effective ways to present complicated information to fact finders. We believe our trial teams are the best in the business, and we have the results to prove it.
Our Careful Selection of the Matters We Handle
Our past successes have afforded us the privilege and freedom to carefully sift through the matters that potential clients and their attorneys ask us to handle. At Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we choose only the most challenging cases, with the most complicated facts and legal issues, because we believe we are one of very few law firms in the county that can reliably achieve a just outcome for clients in those cases. Our selective approach to cases benefits our clients—by picking and choosing, we can wholeheartedly invest our resources in the cases we do take. The complexities that many of our cases bring with them require significant amounts of financial investment to retain experts, reconstruct accident scenes, and perform necessary analyses.
Having recovered billions of dollars for past clients, we’re fortunate to have the means to spend the money we need to on new cases, setting us apart from many other personal injury firms. We are one of precious few firms with the financial resources to fight against large automobile companies, auto parts companies, and their insurance companies, who have millions of dollars at risk in a lawsuit.
Our Award-Winning Team
The personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, rank among the best in the country. Our firm enjoys a sterling reputation as a group of credible and respected legal professionals. We’re fair, compassionate, and appropriately aggressive. We shine when the stakes are highest for our clients and communities. We are, simply put, at the top of our game.
That is why Best Lawyers in America named us the #1 Personal Injury Law Firm in California. It’s why the National Law Journal and U.S. News & World Report have listed us among the very best law firms for plaintiffs’ work in the country. We take special pride in knowing we received these awards because of accolades we earned from our peer lawyers and law firms in the legal community.
In addition to sharing our firm-wide honors, our attorneys have also received numerous individual awards, including recognition in Best Lawyers in America, Trial Lawyer of the Year awards, and recognition from many local and regional organizations such as Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. In addition, all of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s partners were included in Southern California SuperLawyers, and all of our associates were included in that publication’s lists of legal rising stars.
Our Fees in Automotive Defect Matters
Like most personal injury law firms, Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, offers a free consultation to anyone interested in discussing a potential case with a member of our award-winning legal team. We encourage our fellow lawyers, in particular, to feel free to call us at any time to discuss a matter in which we might lend our considerable talents and resources to helping recover compensation and achieve justice for a catastrophically injured or grieving client. Oftentimes, our peer plaintiffs’ firms will find our unique mix of talent and resources the perfect fit for a client whose case exceeds their capacities to investigate and litigate effectively.
When Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, agrees to represent a new client, we have a fee agreement that carefully explains how we will be paid. In most cases, we agree to represent a client on a contingent fee basis in which we only receive fee payment if our client recovers compensation through settlement or a jury verdict.
A California Automotive Defect Firm With a National Reputation for Success
Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s outstanding reputation and history of securing million and multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients, including some of the largest settlements and verdicts in California history, make us the obvious choice for accident victims who need legal representation in complex personal injury cases involving auto defects.
If you, a family member, or another person you love was severely injured in an accident that a defective motor vehicle or motor vehicle part caused, or if you represent someone in that situation, our team of compassionate professionals wants to hear from you.
The skilled lawyers at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, have extensive experience and deep resources that enable them to represent clients in the toughest cases. We take pride in how plaintiffs in California with catastrophic injuries turn to us for representation.
Contact the experienced legal team at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, by phone at (310) 576-1200 or online to schedule a free consultation to discuss how our award-winning team might help.