You’re driving down the road, minding your own business. Suddenly, you hear a loud blast-like a gunshot inside your car. No, your tire didn’t just blow out. You look up to see that in fact your sunroof has just exploded.
It may sound like a crazy, one-in-a-million occurrence. And while the defect is far from commonplace, it’s a known-and increasingly frequent-problem in the auto industry. In the United States, 859 occurrences of sunroof explosions have been reported since 1995-71 percent of those since 2011.
The cause of the defect is as of yet unknown. There is no obvious trend in incidents: it happens across states, climates, vehicle makes and driving speeds. It can even occur when a vehicle is parked. It usually happens within the first two years of a vehicle’s life.
In some instances, an exploded sunroof cracks but maintains its form. In other instances, it shatters, shooting shards of glass at the vehicle’s occupants. To date, no serious injuries or deaths have been reported from the defect-a fact which many victims attribute to luck. Because a sudden explosion in one’s car is so jarring, they suggest that it could have easily caused them to swerve into a nearby vehicle, if one had been in the vicinity.
Some contend that the lack of severity of reported injuries has given regulators an excuse not to prioritize investigation into the issue. Consumer Reports found that government and auto industry safety regulators are aware of the problem but to date have done little to resolve it. Additionally, when sunroof explosions do occur, automakers have been inconsistent with how-or whether-they resolve the issue.
Consequently, many car owners have turned to filing class-action lawsuits against individual automakers. So far, around a dozen such suits have been set in motion. If you’re interested in joining such a lawsuit, consult with an attorney experienced in personal injury and product liability.