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What does “crashworthiness” mean in relation to vehicles?

Posted in Auto Product Liability,Blog on January 8, 2016

If you have ever been in a car accident, you know that you and any other passengers present are exposed to rapid movements associated with accelerations, decelerations and swerving. Vehicles in Georgia and across the country are subject to safety ratings that rank how they can protect you in the event of a crash, otherwise known as crashworthiness.

Car manufacturers should design a vehicle with an effective design that takes the forces associated with a car crash and spreads them across the car to places that are built to take a hit. Some of the factors that play a role in crashworthiness include the following:

  •        Airbags
  •        Seat belts
  •        Crumple zones

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzes these areas as well as other factors to determine crashworthiness and then assigns vehicles a score. Consumers can visit the IIHS website to view how their vehicles rank and potential problem areas.

Crashworthiness is also an important factor for people who are injured due to a defect in the vehicle. If the manufacturer failed to design the vehicle to protect a driver and/or passengers, the company could be held liable for damages.

A claim based on crashworthiness is considered separate from a claim that stems from the actual cause of the incident. For example, if someone runs a red light and strikes your car, you may be able to hold that driver responsible for some of your damages. If there was a defect with your seatbelt, leading to worse injuries than you may have otherwise sustained, you may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible for your worsened condition.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.