Justice for Deadly Rollover Roof Crush Accidents | Injury / Paralysis
Many victims make the mistake of using a local car accident lawyer for their roof crush rollover accident case. A local car crash attorney may concentrate in garden variety rear-end car accidents and slip and fall. A local automobile wreck attorney may even cover a speeding ticket every now and then to help keep the lights on. Why use a fender bender lawyer for a roof crush death lawsuit? Why use a lawyer a couple of years out of law school for a catastrophic rollover injury lawsuit? You can have a big time, NATIONAL high profile roof crush lawyer on YOUR SIDE at a big time law firm. This roof crush attorney will have the experience and resource in obtaining multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of his or her client.
Update- May 5, 2022- “RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A man who spent his professional career pushing automakers into improving safety found those improvements saved his life during a wrong-way car crash. It was a horrendous crash at 65 mph when a wrong-way driver on Interstate 95 just outside of Washington, D.C., slammed into Adrian Lund’s car.“Considering the crash I was in, a frontal followed by a rollover, I’m pretty lucky,” said Lund. “The car did its job.” CBS
A top roof crush lawyer
A local lawyer is likely only able to handle a fender bender or slip and fall at a local supermarket. Get a “WHITE KNIGHT” lawyer to take on corporate America and extract a possible high 7 figure settlement from the auto industry manufacturer. Get the best personal injury lawyers who is willing to take the manufacturer to the mat to secure a possible punitive damages claim against the wrongdoer manufacturer. A good defective automobile law firm will be well aware that Crashworthiness safety systems must work together. For example, the roof structure and safety belt restraint systems are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. If every link in the chain is weak due to defective design, death or catastrophic injury such as paralysis may result.
Jacksonville Florida Roof Crush verdict
“After a four-week trial the jury found that Ford should pay $10,184,315 to the husband of a woman killed when the roof of their 2000 Explorer collapsed and crushed her skull during a rollover. It is the first verdict against Ford in a case focusing exclusively on the defects in the Explorer’s roof and related seatbelt system.” pajcic
“Jane Doe was driving the Explorer on I-95 in Virginia in May 2001 when she swerved to avoid a merging Winnebago. During the ensuing five rolls the Explorer roof crushed down to the back of the driver’s seat, and the deformed B-pillar caused 7 inches of slack in her seatbelt, which allowed her head to be crushed against the outside of the roof rail. Her husband and sister, who were passengers in the Explorer, walked away with minor orthopedic injuries. All occupants were wearing their seatbelts” pajcic
Crashworthiness, roof deformation, internal reinforcements
An experienced attorney focusing on roof crush lawsuits will fully understand the complicated issues concerning:
- roof deformation,
- internal reinforcements and
- biomechanical analysis.
Structural integrity and strength of the roof
Generally, rollovers are actually relatively benign events and most occupants walk away with minor injuries. But this principal assumes that the crashworthiness safety systems are installed and do not fail, and that the structural integrity and strength of the roof are maintained.
Rollovers are imminently survivable events
Expert biomechanical analysis has been conducted on over 900 full scale laboratory tests with male and female pilots with nominal accelerations being at 10 g. Some of the tests had accelerations of approximately 15 g. No injuries resulted to any of the test subjects. Therefore, the level of acceleration measured at the vehicles’ center of gravity during a rollover event is within human tolerances. Rollovers, therefore, are imminently survivable events.
“Yet the industry and Bush Administration’s statements require a thorough analysis of belt performance in rollover crashes and issuance of a federal motor vehicle safety standard. Rollover deaths are now a full one-third of all occupant fatalities, or over 10,000 each year. When serious injuries are added, the number of people whose lives are forever altered by rollover crashes rises to an astonishing 26,000 each year. Federal data show that 22,000 people who were wearing a safety belt died in rollover crashes in the U.S. between 1992 and 2002.” Citizens.org
What is the safety hierarchy of priorities?
The safety engineering hierarchy of priorities is :
1) eliminate hazards;
2) when hazards cannot be eliminated, provide foreseeable safeguards against them;
3) provide warnings and personal protective equipment against remaining hazards.
“Survival space” or “non-encroachment zones”
Since the late 1960s, auto manufacturers have incorporated the concept of “survival space” or “non-encroachment zones” within the occupant compartment, which is not to be intruded upon in a rollover. It was during this time that manufacturers became aware of the need to limit intrusion into this space in order to prevent serious injury and death of vehicle occupants. It has long been acknowledged as fact that the risk of a head injury increases as headroom is reduced.
But the concept of maintaining occupant survival space applies to all manner of impacts, from rollovers to rear-end collisions, to front or side impacts. In fact a recent lawsuit alleged that:
- GM’s own internal memoranda show that in 1966 it had internal safety goals that a roof structure should be strong enough to withstand a 70 mph ground level rollover and that a survival space for the occupant should be preserved in an inverted drop test from a height of 5½ feet.
- GM conducted such tests and found that its vehicles crushed catastrophically from very low drop heights. In one such test, intrusion was about 9 inches at the A-pillar when the vehicle was dropped from just 6 inches.
- GM then changed its testing methodology to a static test procedure and found that the same vehicles passed that test more readily. Then GM advocated to have that test be the standard that the government used to develop FMVSS 216.
Roof strength of GM vehicles
The recent lawsuit also asserted that:
- Instead of designing improved vehicles to protect occupants in rollover crashes, GM designed a test procedure to protect its vehicles.
- Shockingly, the roof strength of GM vehicles changed little in the decades that followed. Indeed, independent testing has found that the roof structure of the 2006 Chevrolet Suburban (identical in design to the 2006 Yukon XL) does not perform any better than GM’s 1967 drop testing noted above. GM vehemently fights any changes in the standards or testing. The average motoring public, however, is kept ignorant of this fact and how common it is.
Duty of care in the auto industry pertaining to roof crush?
It is well-accepted in the auto industry that occupant protection in a rollover type roof crush event can only be accomplished through a systems approach, which includes maintaining the survival space for the occupant, providing an effective restraint system that functions properly in a rollover, and providing mitigation technology that keeps the occupant inside the survival space.
If occupant’s survival space is not maintained, it can cause death or paralysis
Published literature indicates, without ejection, that about 97.4% of belted and 92.2% of unbelted occupants in rollovers had less than an AIS Level 3 injury. But that does not apply when the roof crushes in on an occupant and the occupant’s survival space is not maintained. Of course, a seatbelt has no value in the prevention of an injury from the roof crushing in on the occupant. In some cases, there is no question that a victim was wearing his seatbelt and wearing it properly in the event that both photographic and the physical evidence showing definite evidence of loading from the crash. If a victim’s belt jams in an extended position after the accident, it is consistent with how such ABTS safety belts utilized by a certain manufacturer and how these vehicles perform. The belt would be retracted if it had not been worn prior to and during the accident sequence.
Survival space of the vehicle, can be seriously compromised by the structural failure of the roof
In some instances evidence shows clearly that the driver’s belt failed to properly restrain and the victim was not kept within the survival space. Thus, despite the nature of a rollover event, the subject vehicle could experience a center of gravity acceleration that would have been within the human tolerance level. In some cases, all occupants are properly belted at the time of the rollover event. In car accidents the roof structure could be deformed and intrude into the victims’ survival space. In other vehicular accidents, the victim will be struck by the intruding roof resulting in the compression / flexion of the cervical spine.
Excessive roof deformation causing fatality or catastrophic injury
The visor sitting below the steering wheel demonstrates how severe a roof crushed can be and how much it can intrude into the survival space of the occupant. This is never supposed to happen. Some victims experience head, facial, and other more minor injuries by comparison (AIS Level 1 or 2) directly related to the rollover dynamics without excessive roof deformation. A victim who wears her seatbelt, may be more likely to be scratched up and sore from the rollover, especially when the roof did not crush over her head and she did not suffer the life-threatening and permanently disabling injuries. More about car recalls
Types of injuries from a roof crush
- severe trauma to face, requiring numerous stitches,
- Blood pockets on brain.
- Jaw extremely swollen.
- Significant permanent speech impediment.
If the survival space is not maintained, the victim may suffer a cervical spine injury due to the roof deformation, an AIS Level 5 (Critical) injury. The victim may suffer serious and permanent injuries, including, but not limited to: quadriplegia from the cervical spinal cord injury as a result of a roof crush
The victim could even suffer:
- a fracture and dislocation of the C6 and C7 discs;
- bilateral pulmonary contusions;
- subgaleal hematoma;
Such injuries may cause the need for a mechanical ventilator. Some auto accident victims will never walk again. Some truck accident victims will not even have the strength to even lift to reposition in bed or prevent from sliding down in the car’s seat on trips to the doctor. Other car crash victims cannot wheel themselves in a manual wheelchair.
Potential injuries and damages from roof crush accident:
- total and complete assistance with every aspect of daily life.
- never work again as had prior to this near fatal injury.
- never be able to provide for family.
- Extreme medical and physical complications associated with quadriplegia (some of which increase the risk of dying / death)
- Muscle trophy in upper and lower extremities (and the resulting disfigurement),
- deep vein thrombosis,
- urinary tract infections,
- kidney stones,
- autonomic dysreflexia
- retinal hemorrhage,
- subarachnoid hemorrhage,
- cardiac arrhythmias
- coronary artery disease,
- metabolic syndrome,
- cardiac arrhythmia,
- neurogenic bladder,
- renal insufficiency,
- gastrointestinal conditions
Rollover accident lawyer
Rollover accidents are perhaps the most dangerous type of incident that a driver or passenger can experience. This type of accident will almost always result in serious injury or fatality. Rollover accidents do not simply happen without some sort of predicate. Oftentimes, this predicate is the defective design of the vehicle that makes it more prone to rollover. Those who have suffered injuries or damages as a result of a vehicle rollover may be able to obtain compensation and damages under a product liability theory of recovery.
What is a Rollover Accident?
A rollover roof crush accident occurs when a vehicle flips either onto its side or its roof. This can occur either as a result of impact or through vehicular maneuvers. Certain maneuvers, such as a double lane change, may cause the vehicle to rollover. Sometimes, this can occur due to driver error or malfeasance. For example, excessive speeding may precipitate a rollover. However, rollovers may also occur due to design defects in cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SUVs are more prone to rollover than passenger cars because of their center of gravity. SUVs are taller and narrower than passenger cars which is a risk factor for a rollover. Pickup trucks have an even higher risk of rollover than do SUVs.
Design defects causing rollover accidents
The design defects that may cause a rollover could be a defective tire or faulty design or manufacturing. Vehicles that are overly top-heavy or that have weak roof structures can be more prone to rollover. In addition, certain design features in the car can make rollovers even more dangerous for a vehicle occupant than they already are. For example, a defective door latch can pop open during a rollover, magnifying the effect of the rollover. The roof may have been made with a material that cannot withstand a rollover. In any event, more than half of fatalities in SUV accidents are caused by vehicle rollovers. Every year, there are approximately a quarter of a million vehicle accidents that have a vehicle rollover.
Product Liability Theories
Car manufacturers may be held liable for damages and injuries caused by vehicle rollovers. There are several different type of product liability causes of action. The three primary theories of action are negligence, warranty and strict liability. All three of these theories could be applicable to vehicle rollovers. With regard to negligence, a plaintiff must prove that the manufacturer owed a duty to the plaintiff and breached that duty. Then the plaintiff must also show that the manufacturer was both the actual and proximate cause of the injury. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered actual injury. More likely, a plaintiff will be attempting to obtain recovery under the strict liability theory. This would be premised on the fact that there is a design defect in the vehicle. This would revolve around the showing that the vehicle was dangerous for its intended use and that the manufacturer could have made an alternate design that did not cost much more. This alternate design would have made the vehicle safer to operate. Manufacturers will almost always try to escape legal liability by arguing that the manner in which the driver was operating the vehicle was the cause of the injuries as opposed to any fault in design or action of the manufacturer.
Lawsuits against Manufacturers
There have been many lawsuits filed against auto manufacturers for vehicle rollovers. These lawsuits have been filed as both individual causes of action as well as large class action lawsuits. For example, in 2010, a Mississippi jury awarded $131 million to the family of Brian Cole, who was killed when his Ford Explorer rolled over in a one-car accident. Cole was a pitcher in the New York Mets organization at the time he was killed. The suit alleged that the Explorer was not suitable to be used as the family vehicle that it was marketed as because of its tendency to rollover. The suit also alleged that the vehicle was not crashworthy. The parties settled the suit before the jury could assess punitive damages. Some of the reason for the large jury award was that Cole was widely regarded to be a future major league star. The Ford Explorer is the most rollover-prone vehicle in existence. It is estimated that one in every 27 Explorers have had a rollover incident in which one or more occupant of a vehicle was killed. The numbers are even worse for the Ford Bronco as one in every 500 Broncos were involved in fatal rollovers.
Class action lawsuits and rollover roof crush death
There have also been large class action lawsuits brought on behalf of vehicles owners who had not been involved in an accident. These suits were premised on the fact that the vehicles did not retain their value because the rollover issues depressed the resale market for the vehicles. For example, in 2008, Ford settled a class action lawsuit brought by Explorer owners. Other automakers have faced class action suits for vehicles rollovers as well.
Those who have suffered injury in a vehicle rollover or their families should contact a lawyer to discuss their legal options. It is important to know that not only can the car manufacturer be found liable, but others may be as well. Product liability law holds that anyone that is in the “stream of commerce” may be found liable. This expands the potential liability parties to those who manufactured the auto parts as well as the dealer that sold the vehicle. Plaintiffs can recover for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. In addition, in egregious cases, those found liable for vehicle rollovers may be subject to punitive damages. Manufacturers usually vigorously contest these cases and will use every argument at their disposal to escape liability. Oftentimes, they will make an issue of the plaintiff’s driving or the fact they were not wearing a seatbelt. Thus, it is important to have experienced legal counsel to represent one’s legal interests.
Is the 2006 GMC Yukon XL defective?
In a lawsuit filed by John Smith in UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI WESTERN DIVISION against General motor’s LLC in 2019 the following allegations were pursued (The name of the actual victim is withheld for privacy reasons. Please note that these are only allegations made by the victim that are being reported and are not government or judicial findings)
John Smith alleged the following in his lawsuit RE: the 2006 GMC Yukon XL:
- Driver side A-pillar (the part of the frame at the front of the vehicle where the windshield is) could possibly collapse over the driver’s side around the window opening due to: no internal reinforcement.
- Other causes of the failure could potential be the small section size of the A-pillar, especially in the lateral direction; the inner sheet metal is of extremely thin gauge, which is the surface most likely to collapse; and the reduction in size from A-post to A-pillar without adequate strength compensation.
- The driver side B-pillar (between the driver and passenger seats) mid-span also could have a section collapse on the driver’s side due to: abrupt termination of reinforcements of the door window frames adjacent to the B-pillar which could result in localized structural weakness areas which help to create the signature failure mode of the Suburban (or Yukon) B-pillar.
- There is also no internal reinforcement in the B-pillar.
- It has a small section size, especially in the lateral direction. The inner sheet metal is also exceedingly thin, which is the surface most likely to section collapse.
- In addition, there is a large hole in the inner B-pillar sheet metal.
- There could be a third section collapse of the driver’s side header rearward of the Upper Windshield Corner due to: several large holes in the sheet metal. The number and size of the holes suggest they are there to simply lighten the side header rather than for any other purpose. The inner sheet metal of the corner junction terminates at the failure location. The side header has thin gauge sheet metal. There is also no internal reinforcement.
- There could be a section collapse inboard of the passenger’s side corner junction. This is due to thin gauge sheet metal; a small cross section size; no internal reinforcement; a hole for the sun visor pivot; and the corner junction inner sheet metal ends.
- In addition, the design of the Subject Vehicle was alleged to be defective and unreasonably dangerous because of an inadequate occupant protection system for rollovers. Specifically it was alleged that, it employs a structurally inadequate roof design that allows excessive intrusion in a very foreseeable and low severity rollover environment.
- It was also alleged that General Motors failed to dynamically test the 2006 GMC Yukon roof and occupant safety systems appropriately, specifically in the rollover mode.
- The car wreck victim also alleged that the accident and danger posed by the allegedly defective and unreasonably dangerous automobile should have been known to GM.
- The victim asserted that Alternative feasible designs existed that would not impair the Vehicle’s usefulness or desirability and would have prevented the harm to victims
Victim alleged that alternative designs were economically and technologically feasible
John Smith, the victim in the roof crush lawsuit asserted that: alternative designs were economically and technologically feasible and utilized by other manufacturers at the time. The severely injured victim claimed that basic engineering principles that could have prevented the injuries to the victim were standard industry practices, at the time the 2006 GMC Yukon XL was manufactured include, but are not limited to:
- Using closed structural sections in place of weak, shallow-tray open-sections;
• Increasing metal gauge;
• Replacing low-strength steel with high-strength steel (i.e., Boron steel is five times
stronger than conventional steel);
• Increasing section size;
• Eliminating holes;
• Improving component integration;
• Implementing internal reinforcements, including tubular steel reinforcements;
• Implementing external reinforcements, such as stiffening ribs or doublers;
• Reinforcing component voids with structural foam; and/or
• Using glazed windows.
Getting justice using a top roof crush lawyer
John Smith also made the following allegations against GM:
- The cost and weight increase with such modifications are minimal. Notably, other manufacturers utilize some or all of these methods in their vehicles.
- However, the evidence is that GM’s philosophy has been to make their Suburbans and Yukon XLs (identical designs) as light as possible to just barely pass government and internal GM standards. Even GM has managed to make its Chevrolet Traverse have a stronger roof structure, but it has chosen not to do so with its other models.
Another important issue in roof crush fatalities / death is whether the Subject Vehicle was in substantially the same condition as when it left the control of GM and had not been materially
altered, modified, or damaged prior to this incident. If the vehicle was not modified, the nature of the defects with regard to the failure of the safety belt restraint system is usually inherently the result of GM’s design.
Roof crush wrongful death lawyer
There is little doubt that paralyzing injuries could result from a vehicle that has a poorly designed occupant protection system. A properly designed occupant protection system should include a restraint system designed to minimize occupant contact with the roof interior, and a roof structure that protects the survival space. If the survival space is not maintained a roof crush accident can result in death necessitating a roof crush wrongful death lawyer.
If the safety belt fails to properly restrain the victim, the victim can experience dangerous occupant kinematics, including unreasonable occupant motion during the rollover collision. A roof deformation can expose the victim’s head to severe contact with interior vehicle surfaces, and compromise the effectiveness, if any, of the restraint system. If a safety belt design in question has a tendency to spool out, it can be very problematic.
This was demonstrated, in a recall of numerous GM S/T trucks with Takata ABTS seat belts. Those GM vehicles used substantially similar safety belts to the Yukon XL, but with an allegedly less effective web sensitive feature. GM should have recalled all the C/K trucks, since the vehicle sensitive part of the retractor was known to fail, but they petitioned the NHTSA for an exemption, which the NHTSA, unfortunately, granted.
Poor design of a seat belt
A victim’s excessive movement after a rollover crash could result from the poor design of a seat belt. If the seat belt keeps a victim’s buttocks in close proximity to his seat, as required by reasonable design parameters and goals, such as those developed by Volvo for the XC-90, a victim would not develop a sufficient excursion velocity to expose himself to severe interior impacts.
Defective seat belts with some degree of spool-out
Nearly every belt that was measured in testing had some degree of spool-out. Takata belts have been subjected to vertical acceleration tests for the purpose of evaluating performance in rollover-type scenarios. Despite having a web-sensitive feature, the Takata retractors spooled out in the testing. Similar retractors made to EEC/ECE European specifications did not spool out in the same testing. If the vehicle sensitive mechanism was broken, as it was in many ABTS vehicles equipped with this retractor, the retractor would not lock at all. In some cases the roof structure can be compromised as well due to a poorly designed pillar and roof rail system.
Reasonable safety design principles
Did General Motors fail to apply reasonable safety design principles and establish design criteria for the Yukon XL, which would result in providing reasonable occupant protection in a rollover collision? Without such safety design principles and design criteria in place, there is no possibility of a company making a safe rollover protective design. Is the Yukon XL not reasonably safe in that it could fail its fundamental purpose: to restrain the occupant and keep the occupant away from internal components of the vehicle that could result in serious
General Motors’ own internal research dating back to as early as the 1960’s
If the safety belt system does not remain locked throughout the course of the rollover it would allow the victim to move into the intruding structural components at higher velocity than if the belt performed well. Does the performance of the Yukon XL violate the critical design considerations reflected in General Motors’ own internal presentations and research dating back to as early as the 1960’s?
Alternative designs that were economically and technologically feasible
Some additional alternative designs that were economically and technologically feasible and employed basic engineering principles which were standard industry practices, at the time the 2006 GMC Yukon XL was manufactured include, but are not limited to:
- Using rollover activated pretensioners as used on the 1997 Volvo C70, on the 1997 Freightliner over-the-road tractor and current General Motors trucks;
- Using a properly designed cinching latch plate which reduce excursion in rollovers by several inches, even if the belts do not spool out and help minimize the effects of retractor spool-out;
Rollover pretensioner is activated by a sensor system
The consequences of the belt displacement could be minimized by the actuation of the pretensioner. This device has been demonstrated to reduce occupant excursion in rollover collisions by as much as 40%. A rollover pretensioner is activated by a sensor system capable of detecting a rollover. They were in use by other manufacturers and were technologically and economically feasible when the Subject Vehicle was designed and manufactured by GM.
Cinching latch plates were used on the early Ford F-150, and tested in the Ford v. Ford case. They were also used, historically, in the GM Blazer and other SUV’s. This was demonstrated during the Malibu II testing, which GM relies so heavily on.
Improperly designed restraint system and inappropriate roof structure
The victim in the roof crush lawsuit set forth above alleged that GM could have taken the following precautions:
- Providing a retractor and buckle pretensioner in the Subject Vehicle which GM did on most of its other vehicles in the 2006 model year, but did not add an inexpensive rollover detection system here;
• Equipping the Subject Vehicle with rollover sensors; and/or
• Using a properly designed restraint system that would keep the victim’s buttocks in his seat, which if combined with an appropriate roof structure, significantly improves rollover survivability which is nearly assured.
High center of gravity making them more prone to rolling over
The victim in the roof crush lawsuit alleged:
- Yukons have a high center of gravity making them more prone to rolling over even on pavement.
- In other words, the vehicles do not have to be taken off road in order to experience this heightened risk of rollover.
- These vehicles are particularly dangerous in rollover events because a roof crush can occur if the integrity of the support beams are not maintained resulting in roof collapse and crush.
Some of the allegations made by victims
- “The design defects, manufacturing defects, or both, rendered the 2006 GMC Yukon XL unreasonably dangerous by making the automobile dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer with the knowledge common to the community as to its characteristics.
- The vehicle was unreasonably dangerous as designed, tested, manufactured, marketed, distributed, assembled, and/or tested because GM knew and/or should have known of non-exhaustive list of defects set forth above and as follows:
a. The Subject Vehicle failed to provide proper rollover protection;
b. The Subject Vehicle allowed excessive roof crush and did not maintain adequate survival space for all occupants;
c. The structure of the Subject Vehicle, including the roof, doors, body joints, supporting pillars, and driver side structural support was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it failed to protect the occupants in a foreseeable accident sequence such as a rollover event;
d. The Subject Vehicle was manufactured with insufficient bonds, welds, and seams of the driver side structural support;
e. The Subject Vehicle had a defectively designed and inadequate safety belt restraint system;
f. The Subject Vehicle was not equipped with a sensor system capable of detecting a rollover which would also activate a pretensioner;
g. The Subject Vehicle was not equipped with side curtains for rollover protection;
h. The Subject Vehicle was not equipped with roll sensing technology and/or roll bars;
i. The Subject Vehicle failed did not have glazed windows; and/or
j. Such further defects as the evidence will reveal. failed to use technologically feasible and available alternatives for each of the defects set forth above.”
What are the elements of a strict liability failure to warn case:
- “The elements of a cause of action for strict liability failure to warn are: (1) the defendant sold the product in question in the course of its business; (2) the product was unreasonably dangerous at the time of the sale when used as reasonably anticipated without knowledge of its characteristics; (3) the defendant did not give adequate warning of the danger; (4) the product was used in a reasonably anticipated manner; and (5) the plaintiff was damaged as a direct result of the product being sold without an adequate warning.” Moore, 332 S.W.3d at 756 citing Tune v. Synergy Gas Corp., 883 S.W.2d 10, 13 (Mo. 1994). Failure to warn under strict products liability is a distinct cause of action from design defect. Moore, 332 S.W.3d at 757 (“design defect and failure to warn theories constitute distinct theories aimed at protecting consumers from dangers that arise in different ways.”) Moreover, a finding of a design defect is not a prerequisite to a finding that the defendant failed to warn of the unreasonably dangerous nature of the product. Id. citing Palmer v. Hobart, 849 S.W.2d 135, 142 (Mo. App. 1993). Negligence causes of action. Moore, 332 S.W.3d at 764 (“‘Although negligence and strict product liability theories are separate and distinct, the same operative facts may support recovery under either theory, particularly in a failure to warn case.’”) citing Hill, 721 S.W.2d at 118.
The victim also alleged that:
- “It is undisputed that GM provided no warnings about the higher rollover risk of Yukons or structurally inadequate roof design that allows excessive intrusion in a very foreseeable and low severity rollover environment. GM provided no warnings that the Subject Vehicle contained a defective safety belt restraint system design and that safety belts will not protect one from a roof crush event. Missouri law presumes that Plaintiffs would have heeded any warnings.”
- “The Subject Vehicle was used in a reasonably anticipated manner at the time the accident happened. It was being driven with the speed limit, down a paved highway, during the day. There was nothing out of the ordinary about how it was being used.”
- “Plaintiffs was injured and suffered damages as a direct result of the defective condition of the Subject Vehicle which existed at the time the Subject Vehicle was sold and about which he was not warned. Further, it is undisputed – and indisputable
– that the victims spinal cord injury and resulting quadriplegia was caused directly by the roof crushing in on him and/or the failure of the safety belt restraint system.”
- GM breached its duty to Plaintiffs by designing, manufacturing, and marketing the 2006 GMC Yukon, including the Subject Vehicle, in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition, in that the Subject Vehicle’s propensity to rollover and its inadequate roof structure and/or inadequate safety belt restraint system made it defective and unreasonably dangerous as set forth above. Additionally, the Subject Vehicle was not crashworthy and lacked availabletechnologically feasible safety features and alternative designs as set forth above.”
The victim alleged that “For GM, it was also foreseeable that its SUVs, like the 2006 Yukon XL, which is particularly prone to rollovers, would experience a catastrophic roof crush event in a rollover. GM’s own internal memoranda, testing, and design decisions demonstrate this and GM’s knowledge. It is also well- known among experts and within the industry. It is not made known to the public, to whom GM denies such facts and fails to disclose or warn of them.”
Some injury lawyers believe that GENERAL MOTORS LLC, (hereinafter, “GM”) manufactured a defective, unreasonably dangerous automobile namely a Chevrolet C1500 Suburban. Some car accident attorneys assert that the vehicle can lead to deadly collisions. These allegations were made in a recent lawsuit against GM as a result of a 200 Suburban accident. These auto accident attorneys commonly call these type of case:
- “roof crush” cases or,
- “crashworthiness” cases,
GM designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban, which some people still own and drive regularly.
In the lawsuit, the victim alleged that:
- If a motorist loses control of the vehicle, the vehicle could inexplicably roll on pavement, and if the integrity of the roof was not maintained, as it should have been, this could cause a victim’s head to be crushed thereby causing a death. This is commonly known as a “roof crush” case. This motor vehicle was not equipped with certain safety features such as electronic stability control, rollover protection, and rollover protection airbags, despite those safety features being known, available, and economically feasible at the time the vehicle was manufactured.
If you suffered a catastrophic injury or a loved one was killed in a fatal accident, you may be able to file a roof crush or crashworthy lawsuit. A defective motor vehicle, wrongful death lawsuit may help a victim or his or her family get a sense of justice and closure.
Rollover accidents- roof crush
The victim in the lawsuit asserted the allegations set forth below:
- Suburbans have a high center of gravity making them more prone to rolling over even on pavement. In other words, the vehicles do not have to be taken off road in order to experience this heightened risk of rollover. Given their significant weight and size, these vehicles are particularly dangerous in rollover events because a roof crush can occur if the integrity of the support beams are not maintained resulting in roof collapse and crush. This is alleged by some to be known to GM. The Chevrolet Suburban has been in production since 1935.
- Had the roof not been defective and lacking in the structural integrity, victims could potentially survive serious accidents.
- A 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban could leave the roadway and ultimately rollover. A victim who is properly restrained, not intoxicated or impaired in any way, and was a careful, safe driver. could be subject to death in a rollover. This fatal accident could be caused as a result of the allegedly defect design of the vehicle which allowed excessive roof crush.
- No one denies that GM designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban.
- The 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban is alleged by some to not be crashworthy. Many injury lawyers alleged that in some rollover accidents, the integrity of the roof was not maintained, as it should have been, which thereby causes a victims head to be crushed causing death.
- The 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban also did not have Electronic Stability Control (ESC), or StabiliTrak (General Motors’ version of ESC), which is an essential safety feature that reduces the risk of loss of vehicle control, despite that being a feature available in GM’s passenger cars as early as 1997. GM made ESC standard on its full-size extended vans in 2003, but chose not to do so for its Suburbans. GM’s North American President, Gary Cowger, said in 2004, that “Except for the growing use of seat belts, we have rarely seen technology that brings such a positive safety benefit to the driving public.”
- The 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban also failed to have any rollover protection devices or roll stability control.
- Further, the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban did not have rollover deployed airbags, also called rollover safety canopy airbags, which are designed to deploy during rollovers and stay inflated for five seconds. Evidence obtained thus far indicates that in 1998 GM planned to install a rollover protection airbag in their 2003 Suburbans but discarded this plan in May 2000 due to a “negative business case.” In other words, public safety was not as important as the bottom line despite GM’s own research demonstrating the importance of such a feature. GM tossed out the idea of rollover protection airbags due to alleged cost concerns, but did spend money on new satellite radios and leather seats for the 2003 Suburban. Sadly, those cannot save lives.
- Importantly, in 2003, numerous SUVs contained this technology, including the Volvo XC90, the Ford Explorer and Expedition, Lincoln Aviator and Navigator, Mercury Mountaineer, Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX 470, and various Mercedes passenger cars. The technology was available and economically feasible at the time this vehicle was manufactured.
Defective roof design- roof crush cases can be deadly
- GM may claim or argue that no safety features could have avoided the injuries suffered by certain victims and that the victims death was unavoidable. GM may try to blame various victims. The primary issue here is that the roof was alleged to be defective in that it did not maintain its structural integrity above the driver.
- Photographic evidence may be utilize by a personal injury attorney or a product liability lawyer to argue the unreasonably dangerous nature of the vehicle, especially due to the possible failure of the roof to maintain its structural integrity
- It was entirely foreseeable to and well-known by Defendant that accidents and incidents involving its vehicles, would on occasion take place during the normal and ordinary use of said vehicle.
- Some defects attorney allege that injuries occur because the vehicle was not reasonably crashworthy, and was not reasonably fit for unintended, but clearly foreseeable accidents. The vehicle in question was unreasonably dangerous in the event it should be involved in an incident.
- Design Defect – GM designed, manufactured, and/or sold the applicable Vehicle, with one or more design defects including a roof that was not crashworthy, lack of ESC, lack of rollover prevention, and lack of rollover safety canopy airbags.
- GM designed the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban and allegedly knew of safer alternative designs that existed at the time of production that would have prevented or significantly reduced the above risks without substantially impairing the vehicle’s utility, and was economically and technologically feasible at the time that the subject vehicle left GM’s control by the application of existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge.
Dangerous motor vehicles- design defects
- Many lawyers allege in lawsuits that GM breached its duty to design a reasonably safe, crashworthy vehicle, which was the proximate cause of wrongful deaths.
- The design of the product is inconsistent with a consumer’s reasonable expectations of safety when using the products as intended by GM. Indeed, consumers who purchase and drive large SUVs like Chevrolet Suburbans expect them to be safer, sturdier, made of heavier, stronger steel, and that they will protect them in the event of crashes, including rollovers. They do not expect them to cave in and crush its drivers or passengers.
- Manufacturing Defect – In addition or in the alternative, GM designed, manufactured, and/or sold the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban, with one or more manufacturing defects, more particularly set forth above. The defective vehicle manufactured by GM deviates, in its construction or quality, from the specifications or planned output in a manner that renders the automobile unreasonably dangerous.
- Unreasonably Dangerous – The design defects, manufacturing defects, or both, rendered the 2003 Chevrolet C1500 Suburban unreasonably dangerous by making the automobile dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer with the knowledge common to the community as to its characteristics within the meaning of Section 402A Restatement (Second) Torts. The vehicle was unreasonably dangerous as designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed, assembled, and/or tested because GM knew and/or should have know of the following non-exhaustive list of defects:
Proper rollover protection- defective automobiles and suvs
- Lawyers allege that the vehicle failed to provide proper rollover protection;
- Attorneys assert that the vehicle allowed excessive roof crush and did not maintain adequate survival space for all occupants;
- The vehicle failed to have ESC; and/or
- The vehicle failed to have a rollover safety canopy, or rollover airbags.
- GM may be in possession of all the technical materials and other documents regarding the design, manufacture, and testing (if any) of the vehicle in question. GM may also be in possession of what, if any, engineering analysis and testing it performed. GM my also be in possession of information as to how susceptible to loss of control, rollover, and roof crushes its Suburbans are in general and the 2003 Suburbans in particular.
- GM owes the public and motorists in general a duty to exercise ordinary care in designing, manufacturing, marketing, testing, selling and distributing the vehicle in question; and to discover dangerous propensities of its product. GM failed to exercise ordinary care in designing, manufacturing, marketing, testing, selling and distributing the vehicle in question which had the defects as described above.
Legal basis for liability in product cases