Motor vehicle collisions happen all the time and automobile manufacturers are required to provide certain safety features to help protect occupants in foreseeable crashes. When vehicles fail to protect occupants, manufacturers can be held liable in a crashworthiness case.
Crashworthiness is a subset of product liability that relates to the vehicle’s ability to protect occupants in a crash. In a crashworthiness case, there are two collisions. The first collision is with another vehicle or object. The second collision is the occupant of the vehicle colliding with the vehicle interior.
In a crashworthiness personal injury lawsuit, you’re alleging that a system failed, which was meant to reduce or minimize injuries within a vehicle during a collision.
For example, a car accident occurred when a driver crossed the centerline and struck your vehicle. In the impact, your airbag didn't deploy. Even though the other driver caused the collision, a lawsuit would be brought against the manufacturer of the vehicle for crashworthiness.
While the manufacturer isn’t responsible for the initial crash, your head and facial injuries would have been reduced or minimized had the airbag deployed.
The driver of the other vehicle and his or her insurance company is responsible for any injuries that would have been sustained in the accident regardless of whether the airbag deployed.
The manufacturer would be responsible for injuries that would have been reduced or not present at all had the airbag deployed.
Common Crashworthiness Case Examples
Although there are numerous types of crashworthiness cases, some common examples are as follows:
- Rollover—roof crush
- Seat defects
- Seat belt defects
- Airbag defects (front, side, curtains)
- Unintended acceleration
- Park to reverse
- Tire defects
- Fuel system defects
These systems all are designed to minimize injury and the risk of fire as well as to prevent ejection from the vehicle. But when these features fail, serious injuries can occur.
Two types of defects typically lead to serious injury: manufacturing defects and design defects.
How Is Crashworthiness Assessed?
In order to assess whether there is a crashworthiness case after a collision, the following factors may be examined:
- Is the vehicle available and preserved?
- Was the injured person wearing a seatbelt?
- Did alcohol or drugs play a role in the crash?
- Did a safety feature in the vehicle fail?
- Was the vehicle missing a technologically and economically feasible safety device?
- Were severe injuries sustained?
Murphy & Prachthauser Has the Expertise You Need
Crashworthiness cases are not the same as a normal auto accident case. Prosecuting a crashworthiness case requires experience and additional resources because automobile manufacturers and component part manufacturers defend the cases vigorously. Few law firms in Wisconsin handle crashworthiness cases and it is important to hire a lawyer who has experience handling these cases.
Challenging the crashworthiness of a vehicle is both complicated and expensive—this is why you need the best experienced legal help.
A lawsuit has to be filed against the manufacturer of the vehicle or component part that is defective.
As part of the lawsuit, it’s necessary to:
- Hire experts.
- Conduct inspections of the defective parts.
- Take depositions of corporate representatives of the manufacturer.
- Take depositions of experts across the country and world.
- Prepare a case for trial.
Oftentimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit in a crashworthiness case because manufacturers usually will not admit to a defect in the vehicle, and it’s necessary to prosecute the case and prove the defect.
You Need the Best Possible Legal Help
The attorneys at Murphy & Prachthauser have decades of experience with product liability and crashworthiness cases across the country.
At Murphy & Prachthauser, we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced—motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a case you would like to speak to a lawyer about, get a free case evaluation now, and get an experienced team of lawyers working on your behalf.