Crashworthiness in Car Accident Cases


Crashworthiness is a term that describes a vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants during a collision. This means that the airbags and tires as well as the structure of the car must all prevent serious personal injuries in the event of a crash. Manufacturers must test all vehicles for crashworthiness before they enter the marketplace. However, 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 accident due to the vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness, then you may have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.

After a car accident, you may not know whether poor crashworthiness contributed to your injuries or loved one’s wrongful death. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., we have significant experience handling auto defect cases involving crashworthiness and other factors. In a case involving poor crashworthiness due to a seatbelt design flaw, our attorneys obtained a verdict of $55.3 million, the largest auto defect award in Pennsylvania history. A car crash lawyer from our law firm can investigate and assist you in filing a claim against all liable parties. We have the knowledge, resources and experience to help our clients obtain maximum compensation for the losses they have suffered.

How is Vehicle Crashworthiness Determined?

Crashworthiness concerns the safety of a vehicle during a car accident, not crash prevention. Product liability law requires that all manufacturers ensure their products are safe for all reasonable consumer use. Since millions of car crashes happen every year, it is reasonable for vehicle manufacturers to ensure occupant safety in their automobiles even during a wreck.

To do this, car companies must conduct extensive crash testing to identify potentially injurious car defects. These tests chiefly concern how the force of a collision affects the occupant of a vehicle. Car design and safety features like airbags and seatbelts should all work together to reduce the strength of the impact. However, car manufacturers often neglect these tests or fail to correct dangerous car defects.

Victims of car accident injuries caused or worsened by a vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness may be able to collect compensation, regardless of who was at fault for the car accident. In order to file a product liability lawsuit of this kind, you and your car crash lawyer must demonstrate:

  • It was possible that you and/or other vehicle occupants could have sustained fewer or less severe injuries.
  • The vehicle or a car part caused serious and preventable personal injuries.
  • Some additional feature that the vehicle lacked could have reduced your car accident injuries.

What Common Car Defects May Affect the Crashworthiness of a Vehicle?

Crashworthiness encompasses everything about the vehicle’s ability to protect the driver and passengers in a crash. If any part or design feature on a car or truck is defective or substandard, then catastrophic injuries and wrongful death may result from even mild car crashes. Some of the most common car defects that can affect a vehicle’s crashworthiness and pose preventable risks to occupants include:

  • Defective seatbelts. Defective seatbelt design may fail to prevent an occupant from impacting the inside of a vehicle. Additionally, injuries to the organs, chest and/or neck may result.
  • Fuel system defects. A defective fuel system can cause a fire after a car accident.
  • Airbag failure and defects. Serious traumatic brain injury and/or wrongful death may result from airbag failure during a crash. Additionally, airbags that inflate too easily or with excessive force can cause injuries instead of prevent them. Some airbags, such as the defective Takata airbags, present additional hazards due to the risk of explosion.
  • Center of gravity. Defects in the overall design of a vehicle, SUVs in particular, can sometimes lead to an increased risk for rollover accidents. If so, a vehicle may roll over during a crash, potentially causing serious injuries that could have been prevented by a lower center of gravity.
  • Roof design defects. In the event of a vehicle rollover accident, the roof of a car or truck must be sturdy enough to protect occupants from being crushed.
  • Defective windshields and/or windows. The glass in a vehicle must be strong enough to withstand certain impacts to protect occupants from flying debris. Additionally, car windshield and window glass must undergo specialized treatment so that it does not break into sharp pieces.
  • Tire defects. If a tire provides insufficient stopping power during a wreck due to defects, then preventable injuries may result.

Questions About Crashworthiness? Contact a Philadelphia Car Crash Lawyer

If you have been injured in an auto accident, and you think your vehicle’s crashworthiness may have played a role in your injury, it is important to consult with an experienced car crash lawyer. The attorneys at our law firm can help you explore the legal options available to seek compensation from all liable parties. We have experience investigating and litigating product liability cases concerning crashworthiness.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a dangerous or defective automobile, then we are here to help. Contact us today to speak with an experienced product liability lawyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis — you pay us only if we get results for you.