Crashworthiness and Second Impact Cases May Be Maintained Where the Car’s Safety Equipment Fails

In strict product liability states, a crashworthiness case may be brought against a vehicle manufacture for injuries made worse by a defective product.
In strict product liability states, a crashworthiness case may be brought against a vehicle manufacturer for injuries made worse by defect in the vehicle.

There are car crash cases in which the occupants are injured more seriously because of defects in the car’s design or safety devices.

For example, if a a seat back or seat belt anchor breaks in a low speed crash and fails to protect the driver, then there may be a potential case against the car maker or component supplier.

Other examples include airbags failing to deploy, safety belts not maintaining tension, or the roof A-pillars allowing the occupants to be crushed.

These cases are difficult in Virginia, as the Commonwealth has not adopted the doctrine of “Strict Product Liability” under 402(a) of the Restatement, 2nd of Torts.

In states which have adopted strict product liability, manufacturers can be held liable for product defects arising from the manufacturing process regardless of how much care the manufacturer used to ensure a product’s safety.  It is commonly believed that strict liability incentivizes manufacturers to develop and produce safe products. The fact that Virginia has not adopted this doctrine makes the Commonwealth decidedly pro-business, rather than pro-consumer, when it comes to product safety.

In strict product liability states, “crashworthiness” or “2nd impact cases” can be maintained in catastrophic injury cases in which additional harm is caused by the failure of the vehicle’s integrity or internal safety systems. Crashworthiness is the science of preventing permanent injuries or death from a car crash through the use of various vehicle safety systems. In cases where a driver or passenger’s injury or death may be attributed to a failure of one of the vehicle’s safety systems, a crashworthiness case may be an option to get full reimbursement for all of the harms and losses.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash, and there are questions as to the crashworthiness of your vehicle and the laws that apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).