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What is “crashworthiness”?

The word “crashworthiness” may sound like a word made up by a clever car salesperson, but it is actually one of the most important term used in vehicle defect cases. The term describes the ability of the vehicle to prevent injury to occupants in the event that there is a crash.

The idea is to measure the design of a vehicle to accommodate the rapid acceleration or deceleration due to a crash, focusing on protecting the occupants’ safety once the event begins and the secondary impact occurs, such as occupants slammed together or against the interior of the vehicle after the initial contact. Common examples of crashworthiness features are seatbelts, crumple zones as well as airbags and side impact protection.

Why is this relevant to lemon laws?

Obviously, we want our vehicles to be safe. In the case of crashworthiness, however, the concept addresses the need to hold manufacturers liable for injuries sustained during the accident. Instead of a defect that caused a crash and injury, the crashworthiness is used to measure whether the injuries suffered in the crash were made worse by the vehicle itself. The manufacturer is liable because its duty extends to protect occupants in the event that there is a crash. Moreover, these injuries are considered separate from injuries typical of the particular crash.

Pursuing a claim based on crashworthiness

Typically, motor vehicle accident victims turn to a personal injury attorney. However, poorly designed vehicles that are not crashworthy fall under the category of a lemon law. A knowledgeable lemon law attorney can illustrate how the defect was avoidable and increased the risk of injury to the victims.

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