How does the concept of crashworthiness play into an auto defect case?

Many of us have seen footage on the news that shows either automakers or government regulators sending vehicles filled with crash dummies careening in the direction of inanimate objects. These parties have one primary goal when performing these tests: They want to gain a better perspective of how crashworthy that latest car model is before releasing it on the market for purchase.

The concept of crashworthiness may seem somewhat challenging for many people to understand, but it plays a crucial role in cases where auto defects may have contributed to the severity of someone’s injuries in a wreck.

What is crashworthiness?

Crashworthiness refers to a car’s capacity to distribute the impact rate over the greatest distance and time. A good rule of thumb is that the more crashworthy a vehicle is, the more apt it is to prevent significant bodily harm to its occupants. Crashworthiness relates to such variables as ejection risk, seatbelt effectiveness, airbag deployment and crumple zone injuries.

What’s the intersection between crashworthiness and your injury risk?

Crashworthiness has little to do with accident causation but instead has a direct connection to manufacturing or design defects. Product liability attorneys will often argue that a vehicle didn’t live up to its reasonable foreseeable use and that their client’s injuries resulted from a vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness.

How do you prove a lack of crashworthiness?

To prevail in such a case, the victim or plaintiff must demonstrate that the injuries they suffered were worse than they would have been if the vehicle had been crashworthy. 

Product liability laws and associated liability standards vary by state. In cases where a vehicle’s defects contributed to the severity of someone’s injuries or caused their death, it’s essential to have an experienced attorney on your side.