Understanding Crashworthiness and Auto Defects Related Accidents


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A vehicle’s crashworthiness is a very important aspect one should always take into consideration especially when buying a new car. After all, why pay money for a vehicle that is easily damaged, defective, or can cause you and your passengers injury?

Crashworthiness refers to the ability of a vehicle or its structure to withstand impact and protect its occupants during an accident. Crashworthiness and auto defects are usually intertwined because some of the criteria used to assess a vehicle’s crashworthiness involves aspects of its design or manufacturing. For example, if through its design, the roof fell below the federal roof crush resistance standard, such design defect can impair the vehicle’s crashworthiness.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here are parts of the vehicle that are scrutinized in terms of crashworthiness that are subject to federal safety standards:

  • Roof crush resistance
  • Seat performance in rear impacts
  • Advanced glazing (to minimize occupant ejection)
  • Frontal offset
  • Side impact occupant protection
  • Head restraints
  • Advanced air bags

Also in order to test a vehicle’s crashworthiness, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also tests the performance of vehicles in high-speed front and side crashes, a rollovers, and how well seat/head restraints protect occupants against neck injuries in rear impacts.

The above-mentioned standards and tests can help potential buyers determine how safe and crashworthy the vehicle they want to buy is. In fact, some organizations like the IIHS would rate vehicles for their crashworthiness so you can check out their websites for updates or news on various brands and models.

However, some vehicles may still slip through the scrutiny of the government despite the presence of auto defects that impair its crashworthiness. Product liability law recognizes the Doctrine of Crashworthiness. Under this, the victim of the auto defect which made the vehicle uncrashworhy must prove through competent expert evidence that the injuries he suffered were more severe than it should have been because the product was improperly designed

But proving and gathering competent and expert witness can be difficult and complicated. So if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident because it failed to live up to standards of crashworthiness or had auto defects, you should hire a personal injury attorney or product liability attorney to prosecute your claim.

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