Defective Vehicles

While many auto accidents are caused by driver error, some are caused by manufacturing defects in the automobiles involved.

Since 1966, when the first law on automobile safety was signed, vehicle manufacturing has been regulated to help eliminate unnecessary tragedies during accidents. At Atlee Hall, we are not just acquainted with current automobile safety laws, but we are constantly learning and helping to shape new laws—including fighting for regulations that protect victims of accidents involving self-driving cars. In our previous experience with defective automobile cases, we have achieved numerous multi-million dollar recoveries for our clients, while helping to improve the safety design protocols that make driving safer for everyone.

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Types of Defective Vehicle Cases

  • Self-driving cars/autonomous vehicles
  • Defective airbags
  • Defective seatbelts
  • Tire safety
  • Roof crush
  • Rollover
  • Defective brakes
  • Seatback failure
  • Fuel systems
  • Defective steering system
  • Recalls

Frequently Asked Questions

What is crashworthiness?

Automobile accidents are foreseeable events. Vehicle manufacturers have a legal duty to the public to design their vehicles to be crashworthy. Crashworthiness is the ability of a vehicle to prevent injuries to the occupants in the event of a collision. In other words, the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident. During a collision, a vehicle’s occupants are subject to a number of forces that can result in injury, including rapid deceleration and acceleration, depending on the direction of impact in the collision. Crashworthiness deals primarily with the “second collision” that results from these forces, in which the driver and passengers collide against the interior of the vehicle. An effective crashworthy vehicle design will distribute these injurious forces over as great a period of time and distance as possible.
Manufacturers must test all vehicles for crashworthiness before they enter the marketplace. Car defects can result in a vehicle that does not provide adequate protection from the force of a collision. If you sustain injuries in a car crash due to the vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness, then you may have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.

What parts of a vehicle are subject to crashworthiness?

Examples of crashworthiness features, which are designed to minimize occupant injuries, include: seats, seat belts, seat backs, tires, gas tanks, side impact protection, door latches, roofs, and, airbags (including side impact protection). There are many more, including technology designed to improve driver safety, but these features may fail to operate as they should, thereby causing injury to the vehicle’s occupant. Examples include lane keep assist, blind spot detection systems, and adaptive cruise control.

Who is liable in a crashworthiness case?

The concept of crashworthiness can be used to hold a vehicle manufacturer liable for injuries sustained in a vehicle crash because of a defect that may have been the cause of the crash itself or caused or made injuries worse. Crashworthiness is concerned with whether the manufacturer designed the vehicle and its components so that it is safe for use. Accidents are foreseeable and automobiles must be designed to protect people involved in accidents.

What do I need to prove?

In order to be successful in a claim based on a motor vehicle’s crashworthiness, you will likely need to show that a design feature caused or worsened an injury in vehicle crash. One of the most effective ways to establish this is to show that a safety device was available, and that such a device could have and should have been used in the vehicle because, for example, it was widely available in other models or in vehicles in a similar class. An experienced product liability attorney will consider all legal options and will enlist the help of expert vehicle design and safety consultants in order to ensure that your rights are fully protected.

What should I do if I think my vehicle has a defect?

Not everyone is aware that a vehicle crash may have been as a result of a vehicle design defect, that their injuries were made worse because of an unsafe design, or that a safer alternative design would have reduced their injuries. If you have been in a car crash and you think your vehicle’s crashworthiness may have caused or worsened your injuries, you should speak to an attorney who has experience in this area. Anytime someone is killed or catastrophically injured in a car accident, a crashworthiness claim should be considered and investigated. It is critical that the vehicles involved be preserved and maintained in their post-crash condition. It is also very important to document physical evidence at the scene, markings on the roadway, and obtain witness statements. Atlee Hall has proven success against vehicle manufacturers, which has resulted in enhanced vehicle safety and achieving justice for our clients who put their faith in the manufacturer and safety of their vehicle.

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Case Study

Defective Vehicles / Crashworthiness

When a minor auto accident results in catastrophic injuries, a manufacturing flaw in the vehicle may be to blame.

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