Automobile Crashworthiness Lawyers in Denver
Crashworthiness is the idea that the overall design of a vehicle can reduce the severity of injuries to occupants in the event of a collision. Car crashes are known risks and manufacturers must build cars that protect passengers in crashes.
If you were unnecessarily injured by a feature or a failure of your vehicle during a crash, it may be that the vehicle’s designer or manufacturer is to blame. Call Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. to set up a no-cost initial evaluation of your claim. We take cases nationwide, and our Denver office may be reached at (303) 759-9945.
Cars should be more crashworthy today than 30 years ago but competition and price wars have often led to unsafe design. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit organization, has gained attention in recent years for its vehicle safety ratings. When an auto company’s new vehicle gets a good review, they splash that information in press releases and local news affiliates. Even vehicles with 5 star safety ratings have been involved in crashworthiness suits. The IIHS ratings do not always match the road performance. Here are some of the ways IIHS found that auto manufacturers are making car occupants safer:
- Shatter-resistant glass (less potential for lacerations and traumatic amputation)
- Crumple zones (absorbing the force of the impact to keep from passing it on to the occupants)
- Collapsible steering wheels (keeps the occupant from suffering blunt force trauma to the chest and abdomen due to the steering wheel)
- Padded interiors (softening the secondary impact to the occupants)
- Airbags, front and side (front airbags are good for head-on and rear-end collisions; side for side-impact collisions)
- Increased roof strength (occupants less likely to be crushed in a rollover, especially in a pickup truck or SUV)
- Door latches that work (faulty door latches allow doors to open and occupants to be ejected)
- Fuel system integrity (less likelihood of a vehicle fire starting in the event of a collision)
A truly crashworthy vehicle redistributes the force of impact toward less vital parts of the occupants’ bodies to minimize the overall damage and save lives. New and improved design, as well as additional safety equipment and countermeasures, can do this. We know it. So when a vehicle goes beyond this and actually causes injury to an occupant, our law firm is here to fight back.
Lawsuits over crashworthiness normally involve secondary impacts and enhanced injuries that come about from an unsafe feature or design of the vehicle. We prove that these features do bodily harm to clients who might otherwise have walked away from a collision with minor injuries.
There are several areas that we examine in evaluating a crashworthiness of a case:
- Airbags: Did all of the airbags deploy at the right time with the right impact?
- Glass: Did the vehicle maintain its integrity to protect the occupant compartment?
- Fire: Why did the vehicle catch fire? Was the fuel tank designed to keep the tank from leaking upon impact?
- Seatbelts: Did the seatbelt come unlatched during the accident due to the manufacturers’ failure to account for inertia in the seatbelt state?
- Roof crash: In a rollover accident the roof should not deform and maintain its shape to protect the occupants.
- Tires: Did the tread separate from the tire?
For example, a poorly designed seatbelt that doesn’t sit low and tight over the hips can ride up and lacerate the abdominal organs, even while it prevents the occupant from being ejected from the vehicle, even if it leaves the skin unbroken. A sharp edge on a protruding interior feature can lacerate or impale an occupant. However, crashworthiness claims also involve safety features that failed to operate when they were needed the most—a door lock, a seatbelt, an airbag.
When a vehicle designer or manufacturer releases a vehicle to the public without conducting thorough testing to look for these potential issues, they are morally responsible to the victims. But holding them legally responsible is much harder, and requires deep knowledge of the industry and auto engineering. We must gather testimony from medical experts, vehicle designers, safety consultants, and more to distinguish exactly which injuries were caused or worsened by the vehicle itself.
Our law firm has over forty years of experience and has won record-breaking verdicts for victims. We only handle serious injury and wrongful death, and our client always come first. Contact a Denver auto product liability attorney at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. to set up a no-cost initial evaluation of your claim at (303) 759-9945.
- The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration: Crashworthiness
- Frontal Crash Tests - IIHS
- Air Bags - NHTSA