A typical auto accident results in not one but two collisions: the impact of the vehicle and the impact of the occupants moving within it.
If a designer, manufacturer, or dealer failed to ensure your vehicle was crashworthy, you can hold them responsible for your injuries.
Tell me more about how the Law Firm of Roger 'Rocky' Walton, P.C. in Arlington, TX, can help me...
What Is Crashworthiness?
Your Degree of Safety in a Crash
A vehicle should be designed to minimize the risk of injury presented by accidents. Car crashes are common enough that the design and components of a car should take that possibility into account.
An Obligation on the Part of Designers, Manufacturers, and Dealers
Legally, designers and manufacturers are required to include a system that will minimize the injuries that result from a crash. "Crashworthiness" specifically refers to features that reduce the impact of a crash. These include design elements such as airbags, seatbelts, headrests, and rollbars.
A Designation of Liability
If the devices in your vehicle failed to minimize the injuries you suffered as a result of a car accident, designers, manufacturers, and even car dealers may be held responsible for paying restitution. Our Arlington firm can prove when these parties have acted negligently.
Meet Rocky Walton
Rocky Walton and his Arlington team are dedicated to providing aggressive representation for clients in need. Certified as a specialist in personal injury law, Rocky has been handling personal injury cases since 1987. Many of his peers refer cases to his office due to his track record of favorable settlements and jury awards.
To schedule a free initial consultation at his office in Arlington, TX, call (817) 429-4299 or reach out online.
"They are very professional and honest! They keep you informed, you don't have to call, email them or harass them cause they are with you every step of the way!...I recommend this law firm 100% these people are going not only going to work for you, but they will give their All!" Sandra M., Google Review
I would like to thank you, Kati and your entire staff for their hard work and professionalism...Your staff was very detailed in their process regarding how to move forward to receive compensation for the accident...I would highly recommend Rocky and his crack crew to help with any issues you may have in receiving equitable compensation for an accident." Dennis W., Google Review
Who Is Responsible?
This type of lawsuit can be brought against several different parties, including the company that designed the vehicle, the company that manufactured its parts, and even the dealer who sold it. While a dealer is not responsible for how a car was designed or constructed, they are responsible for selling vehicles that are safe by making sure that a potential buyer is fully aware of shortcomings in safety features.
A crashworthiness lawsuit typically falls within the realm of product liability. Legally, it is considered separate from the cause of the accident itself. If you wish to pursue a lawsuit against both a negligent driver who caused a crash and the parties responsible for the crashworthiness of your vehicle, you will need to file two separate lawsuits. Our Arlington firm is prepared to help you determine the best way forward.
How to Prove Liability
There are a number of ways to prove a design or manufacturing company's liability. One of the most effective options is to demonstrate that an effective safety device was available and that it could and should have been included. For example, if you are in a rollover accident and your vehicle has subpar rollbars, your attorney could argue that the manufacturing or design company cut costs by using an unsafe device even though a safer alternative was available.
Bringing a claim against a large company often means pitting yourself against an opponent with considerable legal resources. Automakers can be expected to go to great lengths to minimize a claim and ideally discourage victims from pursuing due compensation, even if those victims have a legitimate claim.
This does not mean you should give up on the possibility of a successful lawsuit. Rocky Walton in Arlington is no stranger to taking a powerful company to court. He can provide you with the representation you need in order to obtain a fair verdict or settlement. However, it is important to be prepared for a potentially long process.
Explore Your Legal Options
The thought of dealing with a difficult lawsuit can be enough to put some people off entirely. But dealing with burdensome medical expenses, lost wages, and the other financial losses can be virtually impossible without compensation.
Rocky Walton in Arlington can not only represent you in a lawsuit, but also provide letters of protection to help you get medical treatment now, with the promise that the bills will be paid once a settlement or jury award is obtained. Even if the settlement or jury award is less than you expect, he may still be able to negotiate with the doctor to lower the overall cost of treatment.
Learn about your options during a free initial consultation at our office in Arlington, TX. Reach out by calling (817) 429-4299 or send us a message online to schedule an appointment.
Common Defenses against Claims
Blaming the Other Driver
Some companies may claim that because another driver caused the crash, that driver alone should bear sole responsibility for your injury. They may also insist that the only reason you are trying to sue the company as well as the driver is because the driver's insurance is inadequate. In short, they may try to frame your lawsuit as a desperate grab for more money.
The counterargument to this is fairly simple. Although the other driver may be responsible for the initial accident, your vehicle should still have been designed and built to mitigate the injuries resulting from the first and second collision (the impact your body made with the inside of the vehicle or other surfaces after the initial impact). If the vehicle failed to stand up to reasonable use, the automaker should bear at least some responsibility for your injury.
Blaming the Plaintiff
In some cases, the defense may try to turn the claim around on you. They may argue that your own negligence led to the accident. For example, they could argue that a text message sent close to the time of the accident or a similar distraction is evidence that your attention was not fully on the road and that you are ultimately responsible for the crash.
However, the counterargument remains the same: you were still owed a duty by the designer or manufacturer to minimize your injuries through the inclusion of safety devices. As a result, admitting that you may have been negligent while driving can help your case in certain situations. Doing so not only leaves the defense's argument somewhat flat, but may also allow you to present yourself as more reasonable.
This can be a delicate balance, however. For example, sending a text message while driving is illegal in the state of Texas and could potentially undermine your credibility. Rocky can help you determine the right strategy for your case.
Meeting Industry Standards
The defense can also claim that the car in question was actually crashworthy because it met the industry's standards. In other words, even if a system did not work as intended or was not included in the first place, the company should not be penalized because it's the same as what any other automaker would have done.
However, this argument misrepresents how the auto industry typically works. While many designers and manufacturers may claim that competition is harsh, companies often work collaboratively. Each company is usually aware of what the others are doing in terms of these features. Rather than trying to include more features than a rival, automakers often collectively decide to meet a minimum level of safety in order to maximize profits.
Meeting Federal Standards
Similar to the industry standards approach, a defendant may argue that because they met federal safety standards for vehicle design and manufacturing, the car was crashworthy. However, like the industry standards argument, this misrepresents the reality of the situation.
While most of us would like to believe that only the strictest standards of safety are put into federal law, the opposite is often true. Federal guidelines do not necessarily result in state-of-the-art safety systems. Many automakers, trade groups, and lobbyists spend millions of dollars each year to influence this process and maximize profits. As a result, vehicles often meet the lowest possible threshold for safety, simply because that threshold is easier and more affordable to meet.
For victims, the best counter-argument is the testimony of an expert witness. He or she can demonstrate in detail how the regulations do not represent the safest approach, and explain how these regulations were lobbied into existence in the first place.
"I am immensely impressed with the professionalism, integrity and legal expertise of the Walton firm and support team. They could not have achieved a better result. Their aggressive handling of the adverse issues and opposing parties was really quite remarkable, as were their thorough and timely communication with their client. Thank you, Rocky and Tim, and the whole team!" Ron U., Google Review
The most effective way to prove a vehicle's crashworthiness is through a series of test drives that measure performance, structural integrity, and protection systems. Automakers should put any car through crash tests, test drives, and other similar trials to determine whether it can withstand reasonable damage without hurting an occupant.
Automakers should demonstrate that they performed rigorous test drives and other measures of crashworthiness in an effort to meet high standards of safety. Our Arlington firm can uncover exactly how much effort was made by an automaker to protect you and your loved ones. If your safety was given inadequate consideration during the design or manufacturing stages in developing your vehicle, Rocky Walton is prepared to help you collect the restitution you need and deserve.
The personal injury information offered and contained herein, regarding personal injury statutes and claimants' rights is general in scope. No attorney client relationship with our attorneys is hereby formed nor is the information herein intended as formal legal advice.