The Crashworthiness of a Vehicle and Your Injuries

Crashworthiness may be defined as the ability of a vehicle to protect its occupants in the event of a collision. 30 to 40 years ago, vehicles were not designed as they are today. Stringent safety standards have led to vehicles with inherent crashworthiness features, such as front and side airbags, seatbelts, headrests and crumple zones. Combined with safety features that are meant to help drivers avoid accidents in the first place, crashworthiness features can save lives. They are designed to work in all accident types: rear-end, head-on, side-impact and vehicle rollovers, and should minimize the risk of the occupant colliding with the vehicle interior, reduce the risk of fire and prevent ejection from the vehicle.

When these features are designed properly and are in working order, they can make all the difference in a driver or passenger's ability to avoid catastrophic injury or death. If they malfunction, are poorly designed or do not meet safety standards, the occupant may be at greater risk of injury.

Crashworthiness and Auto Product Liability

When a person is injured or is more severely injured because a vehicle's crashworthiness features are defective or poorly designed, this may provide the victim with grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer. The injured party may be able to seek compensation for these injuries, separate from the injuries sustained because of the accident itself. A car accident claim that addresses the crashworthiness of the vehicle will not consider what caused the accident but rather how the design or manufacturing defect caused or enhanced the injuries that the victim sustained.

Manufacturers have a duty to produce automobiles that are reasonably safe in any type of collision. An injured party will need to prove that the vehicle was not crashworthy and that their injuries were caused or made worse as a result. It can be difficult to prove this, as these can prove highly technical matters requiring the insight of engineers, safety experts, vehicle designers and medical professionals. Then there is the matter of government safety standards. If the manufacturer complied with these, can it still be held accountable? Every case will be different, but working with a competent attorney is one way to help ensure that you are able to properly present your case. A thorough investigation into every angle of the collision, along with the aggressive protection of your legal rights, may enable your lawyer to seek a fair settlement or jury award for a lawsuit against a manufacturer for a vehicle that was not crashworthy.

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