Tennessee Product Liability Law: Passenger Injuries in Defective Vehicles
When it comes to purchasing a vehicle, consumers have plenty of choices they will need to review: Do you want a new or used vehicle? Should it be compact, mid-sized, or sports utility? Do you want a gas hog or fuel efficient ride? Do you want it to be pink or black? The significance of each option will, of course, be dependent upon the consumer’s preferences and needs for the vehicle. However, one primary component which should always be considered the top priority is the vehicle’s safety. Sadly, not every vehicle is fully equipped with the same amount of protective safety features, especially as it pertains to passengers. At InjuryTN, our experienced product liability attorneys understand how safety ratings assigned to vehicles may vary on a yearly basis and rely heavily upon the kind of crash testing that’s been conducted.
Numerous manufacturers proudly promote their vehicles’ safety features for families, especially families with young children. Unfortunately, however, not every one meets this goal and fulfills their promise, and a few offer much less protection than what they like to publicize. Specific kinds of vehicles may be inherently dangerous for passengers, even though auto manufacturers often will minimize those risks. Regardless, if cases where some part of the vehicle caused the driver or passenger to be more vulnerable to severe injury, grounds could be found for a product liability claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Crash Ratings & Car Accident Injuries
The majority of individuals who are shopping for the right car will compare vehicle crash ratings to help them figure out the approximate level of safety each model has. These vehicles are scored by government regulators as well as insurance representatives who conduct tests on the safety of each model in comparison to others and, when reviewed carefully, these safety scores can provide consumers with a lot of information regarding the vehicle’s level of safety for passengers. Nonetheless, such safety ratings do not always paint the clearest picture of the vehicle’s actual safety.
For instance, the majority of these tests on the safety of front-end collisions are taken using vehicles which are equal in size to the test model, meaning a different size than the vehicles which are manufactured and distributed. In fact, individuals in smaller cars are often at a much higher risk of severe injury when in such an accident.
Take the University of Buffalo’s recent study on car crashes for example, which evaluated more than 80,000 vehicular crashes and found that occupants in smaller vehicles with higher crash safety ratings were 7 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than those in an SUV with which the smaller vehicle had collided, regardless of how low the SUV’s rating was.
More studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have shown that numerous smaller and newer models of pickup trucks failed to provide adequate protection for T-bone collisions, which proved to be a primary concern due to the fact that such crashes are the second most common types of crashes resulting in fatalities. Such accidents are often especially hazardous if passengers or small children are onboard.
And according to reports from the NHTSA, almost half of all deadly SUV accidents were caused by rollovers, and the same was found to be true for pickup trucks with 4-wheel-drive. This is in comparison to a mere 16% of all deadly car crashes which involved a rollover.
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If you or someone you know have been injured in an accident, you should seek immediate legal assistance to protect your rights and obtain just compensation.
Crash Test Scores & Safety Hazards
Now, crash test scores should not be considered a guarantee, but should, rather, give consumers more time to take all factors into consideration before purchasing a vehicle.
It’s still important to remember, though, that larger vehicles like SUVs are not inherently safer either. Before 2012’s regulations established regarding vehicles’ electronic stability control systems, drivers and occupants in SUVs have been known to be at a much higher risk of being in a rollover accident. This is due to the fact that trucks, minivans, and other SUVs have a more elevated center of gravity, and are therefore more prone to rolling when the get into an accident.
In terms of passenger safety, the IIHS and Consumer Reports rated the following vehicles as having the worst protection from side-impact collisions and from internal impact for shorter drivers:
Worst Protection from Side-Impact Collisions:
- Fiat 500,
- Kia Rio 5,
- Mercedes-Benz CL600,
- Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart,
- Toyota Corolla L.
Worst Cars for Shorter Drivers:
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Ford Fiesta ST
- Jeep Wrangler
- Mazda MX-5 Miata
- Nissan Z
Get in Touch with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer
It’s still important to remember that crash ratings for vehicles new and old are always changing, so always conduct your own research into vehicle crash ratings before making any major purchases. Just because a vehicle does not have a high safety rating does not necessarily mean that it is automatically unsafe to drive (similar to how those with high safety ratings are not invulnerable), however, manufacturers who are made aware of certain hazardous components of their product and are unable or unwilling to appropriately address the problem or provide consumers with fair warning about the problem can find themselves subject to product liability claims.
In the event that you or someone you know has been in an accident in Tennessee, contact InjuryTN to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation with an experienced product liability attorney. There are no costs or fees until our team wins the case.