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The Science of Vehicle Crashworthiness

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

By Scott D. Kagan

Motor vehicle crashworthiness is a concept used to describe the ability of a motor vehicle to protect its occupants. Motor vehicle accidents are unfortunately common and sometimes unavoidable. As a result, motor vehicle companies try to protect the occupants by creating a safer vehicle. Crashworthiness is the science of focusing on protecting occupants involved in any and all accidents through the utilization of various safety systems and principles.

A vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants is based on a number of factors including: minimizing crush to maintain survival space, providing proper restraint throughout the accident, preventing ejection, distributing energy and dissipating crash forces; and preventing post-crash fires. All of these crashworthiness systems must work together to provide adequate protection throughout the accident.

Of course these safety precautions don’t prevent accidents; they are merely taken to minimize injury once an accident does occur. As such, there is a distinction between the cause of the accident and the cause of the injury.

One of the more integral parts of a vehicle’s crashworthiness is the safety cage. In the event of an accident, the safety cage protects occupants by maintaining the survival space and dissipating collision forces that the occupants would otherwise be exposed to. When working, they effectively decrease the loads exerted upon occupants in a crash, and reduce the likelihood of injury

There are many issues to be investigated when considering whether a viable products liability case exists. Such issues include: Crash severity, whether seat belts were used, and whether the restrain systems properly functioned. One must also determine how the vehicle compared with crash testing for the same model and whether occupant protections systems were available but not incorporated.

At our firm we have vast experience deciphering these issues in search of viable automotive product liability cases. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a vehicle’s failed safety mechanisms or other crashworthiness issues, please contact our firm.

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