Automobile Crashworthiness - Accident Attorneys
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
Crashworthiness cases differ from conventional auto accident cases in several ways. Auto accident cases focus primarily on the cause of the accident and who is at fault. Crashworthiness cases, also known as "second impact", "second collision" or "enhanced injury" cases, concern themselves with how the failure of a motor vehicle's safety systems contributed to the occupants' injuries.
Over the last decades, auto accident claims and public clamor have forced automobile manufactures to improve their vehicle's safety features. As a result, shatter-resistant windshields, collapsible steering wheels and padded interior fixtures have lessened the severity of injuries resulting from "second impact" during auto accidents.
The modern concept of crashworthiness does not refer to any safety system in particular, but with how all the safety systems in a vehicle work to protect its passengers. In one accident, for instance, the airbags and crumple zones may work properly, but a defective door latch that fails to prevent the driver from being ejected from the vehicle may result in serious injuries. The defective door latch alone was the weak link that diminished the vehicle's overall crashworthiness.
The safety features that, when working properly, together contribute to a vehicle's crashworthiness include:
- Seatbelts - during an accident, seatbelts provide a controlled resistance to the violent forces acting on the vehicle and prevent passengers from being ejected from it.
- Airbags - properly functioning airbags prevent occupants from impacting the interior of the vehicle during an accident. When not working properly, airbags can be a menace independent of the accident.
- Crumple zones - these are parts of the vehicle that are designed to absorb some of the violent forces acting on a vehicle during a collision in order to prevent damage to the passenger cabin.
- Roof strength - properly designed and/or reinforced roof structures prevent them from crushing or otherwise dangerously encroaching into the passenger space during an accident, especially a rollover accident.
- Door latches - while seemingly unimportant, a door latch provides structural integrity to the vehicle during an accident. A failing door latch is the single most frequent cause of passenger ejection during an accident. Passenger ejection considerably increases the likelihood that he or she will suffer serious injuries or death.
- Seat and seatback strength - a collapsing seatback poses numerous potential hazards to occupants of an automobile during an accident, especially in a rear-end collision.
- Fuel system integrity - defective fuel systems can result in an needless fire or explosion during or after an accident.
Crashworthiness litigation is usually complex and requires a technically sophisticated investigation of the accident scene and vehicles involved. Auto manufacturers' legal teams tend to be aggressive and have access to vast resources, so going up against them requires competent and experienced representation on behalf of the plaintiff(s). In some cases, a class action lawsuit may be the best recourse for victims of vehicles that should not be on the road, so the firm that represents the plaintiffs should have experience and be familiar with class action legal provisions.
Most jurisdictions have a statute of limitations, or time limits by which a crashworthiness claim must be filed. There also often time limits by which plaintiffs can join ongoing class action lawsuits. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an automobile you suspect was not crashworthy, you should consider contacting an attorney sooner, rather than later.
Contact our Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys today to find an experienced defective automobile lawyer.