Crashworthiness: Too Often Overlooked in Car Accidents

After a motor vehicle crash, most people look at the participants to try to determine who was at fault for the collision. Too often, the drivers, police and insurance companies overlook a major cause of motor vehicle accidents and injuries in the crashes: manufacturer defects.

In 2010, automakers recalled well over 20 million vehicles in order to repair a wide range of defects:

  • Roof supports that do not protect passengers from head injuries
  • Seats that do not properly lock in place
  • Faulty ignition systems
  • Hood latches that will not lock
  • Flawed transmissions
  • Malfunctioning air bags
  • Problematic brakes
  • Steering problems

Some of these defects cause crashes, while others fail to adequately protect drivers and passengers involved in collisions. Such defective automobiles and motorcycles can cause devastating neck, spinal cord, back, head and brain injuries - and even fatalities.

Here are just three examples of motor vehicle recalls this year, according to automotive.com:

  • In a limited number of 2010 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up seat covers aren't compatible with seats containing side air bags. The result is that the air bags might not deploy properly in the case of an accident.
  • In some 2011 Hyundai Sonatas, doors might not close properly. The vehicles were recalled to prevent serious injuries and deaths to drivers and passengers.
  • Toyota recalled 2010 Rav4 vehicles to fix accelerator pedals over concerns that the pedals might get stuck in partially depressed positions when in a cold climate such as Cleveland.

These kinds of defects affect crashworthiness, an auto industry term describing the capability of the vehicle to survive a collision and protect occupants of the vehicle from injuries and death. Federal regulators monitor crashworthiness, but only the manufacturer can truly enhance or maintain a high level of it.

When a carmaker produces dangerous products, they can be held liable by a court for the resulting injuries.

If you've been involved in an accident in which it's possible that manufacturer defects caused or contributed to the crash or severity of injuries, preserve the evidence and document the scene by measuring, mapping and photographing it.

In order to preserve evidence, keep it: in other words, if a tire on your vehicle blew out, save the tire; if an air bag failed, hang on to the bag, and so on.

An attorney can help with the investigation; an experienced lawyer is skilled at documenting the evidence and proving a cause of action.

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