Automakers Choice to Ignore Safety Features Can Result in Fatal Car Accidents


February 23, 2012

Many people presume there is no such thing as a safe or unsafe vehicle and that the key factor in whether someone is involved in an accident, as well as the seriousness of their injury, is entirely dependent on a driver’s carelessness.

Although this assumption is not entirely mistaken, the type of vehicle a person drives can have a significant difference on both the likelihood that you will be involved in an accident as well as the severity of your injuries. For example, drivers of pickup trucks and SUVs have traditionally been at a greater risk of injury than those who drive passenger cars and vans. However, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals that this gap may be closing.

The new study suggests that the gap has closed for SUVs and has become less pronounced for pickup trucks. For example, the IIHS study found that deaths caused by accidents involving SUVs that collide with cars and minivans have declined from 44 fatalities per million registered vehicles to just 16 per million registered vehicles. Ironically, passenger vehicles and vans were involved in collisions with other similar vehicles at a higher rate of 17 fatalities per million registered vehicles. The improved fatality rates for those driving SUVs and pickup trucks is largely attributed to safety improvements in cars and vans, as well as improved safety designs in SUVs and pickups, including those that permit their front-end energy absorbing structures to be more effective when they impact a passenger car or van. (Keep in mind, however, that the numbers of fatalities is just one indicator of results, there are many more non-fatal injuries and these need to be considered as well.)

These new study results emphasize the important role that vehicle safety features can play in preventing catastrophic injuries and fatalities in car accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Some of the new safety features being more widely implemented in passenger vehicles and vans include side impact airbags and stronger structural integrity of the frame of the vehicle. Many times there are relatively inexpensive improvements in vehicle design that may generate a substantial improvement in safety. Unfortunately, retooling an assembly line or recalling motor vehicles can be extremely expensive so sometimes car manufacturers often choose profits over safety.

When the manufacturer of the car, truck or SUV ignores alternative designs that might generate substantial benefits in preventing serious injury or wrongful death at a relatively modest cost, the carmaker may be liable for punitive damages in a product liability lawsuit. The process of establishing a claim for punitive damages can be complex and difficult to litigate because it often requires extensive investigation and exhaustive use of litigation discovery procedures to obtain critical documents that show the manufacturer knew or should have known of the defective component and made a conscious decision to disregard the risk. Sometimes there will be memos or internal correspondence, which may be buried amongst millions of other documents. Our Atlanta product liability auto accident law firm understands the value of carefully reviewing each and every document when searching for a “smoking gun,” or a piece of evidence than can make a case.

If you or a close family member suffers serious injuries or a loved one dies in a motor vehicle accident, the experienced auto accident attorneys and the Georgia product liability attorneys at Montlick and Associates may be able to help you by carefully investigating the facts and circumstances of your auto accident and identifying all potential parties that may be responsible for your injuries. We invite you to contact us so that we can evaluate your case. Our Atlanta auto accident and products liability lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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