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Defective Door Latch

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Each year, more than 8,000 people are ejected from their vehicles through open doors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A significant percentage of these door openings involve broken door latches and/or strikers. Some of these are caused by defects.

Victims who suffer pain and financial losses due to door latch-related accidents are often able to receive compensation. Lawyers to help with an injury can evaluate your specific situation and help you determine your legal rights.

This article outlines a variety of legal implications associated with defective door latches. To learn more, continue reading or contact a personal injury attorney with experience trying defective product cases.

Door Latch Defects and Strict Products Liability Law

Cases involving defective door latches are evaluated under automotive product liability laws. If a door latch defect is shown to be "unreasonably dangerous" and has caused harm to the victim, then compensation can be awarded from an insurance company or court award. Because defective door latches are evaluated under strict liability laws, negligence does not need to be proved for victims to receive compensation.


A door latch defect may involve:

  • Flaws in the design
  • Insufficient warnings for consumers
  • Mistakes made during manufacturing
  • Inadequate directions for safe usage

Door latch injuries can be very serious, if not fatal. They include:

  • Broken bones
  • Amputation
  • Road abrasions
  • Death


Victims of accidents involving defective door latches can be eligible for two types of compensation: compensatory damages and punitive damages. If victims are awarded compensatory damages, they receive reimbursement for some or all of their accident-related expenses, which may include medical bills, lost income, lost prospects and psychological and physical pain. The value of compensatory damages is determined by pre-established guidelines, with the severity of the injuries taken into account.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the liable party by awarding an additional sum of money to the victim. The method of determining the value of punitive damages differs according to state.

Causes of Door Latch Failure

A door latch can be defective in a variety of ways. For example:

  • The door latch may not completely close when the door is shut.
  • It may not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Currently, a door latch must be able to sustain an inertial load of 30 Gs (thirty times the force of gravity) during a crash scenario.
  • The technology used in the door latch system may be outdated.

If you believe your injuries have been caused by a defective door latch, contact an attorney specializing in lawsuits for product defects who can evaluate your case and determine your eligibility for compensation. If you have lost a loved one in a defective door latch accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death case. A fatal injury lawyer can help protect your legal rights.

When You Might Need an Attorney

Although most minor door latch injury claims are handled by insurance companies, victims who suffer harm should evaluate their cases with a personal injury attorney who has experience trying accident compensation cases involving defective door latches. With the help of an attorney's expertise, many victims receive compensation greater than their initial settlements. The following situations may warrant a defective door latch lawsuit:

  • The victim has not been fully reimbursed for all of his or her accident-related expenses, such as medical bills, lost income, psychological and physical pain and lost prospects.
  • The claim's settlement has been delayed. Because of strict limitations for filing claims, victims may lose their opportunity to receive compensation due to prolonged settlements.
  • The insurance company of the manufacturer denies the claim.

If any of these situations applies to you or someone you know, contact a products liability attorney to learn more about your right to compensation.

Did You Know?

If a door latch on your motor vehicle is involved in a safety recall, the manufacturer must correct any defect free of charge.

Statutes of Limitations

Most states have a statute of limitations for filing defective door latch cases. Depending on the state, the time limit may range from 6 to 12 years from the date of sale by the manufacturer.