One of America’s best product liability lawyers – E. Todd Tracy will be speaking on “Crashworthiness: The Unexplored Avenue to Recovery” as a keynote speaker on 21st October 2014, 11:20 am at Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) conference.
OTLA 2014 Fall Conference:- Building Blocks of Practice Excellence: A New Look Through Old Windows
Monday, October 20 (12:30 pm – 5:00 pm) – Tuesday, October 21 (8:30 am – 4:15 pm)
Location: Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Building, Level 100, 255 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2W6
When your client is catastrophically injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident and there is not enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate your client, what should you do as a lawyer? The answer is simple – find other sources of potential recovery. Was the negligent driver in the course and scope of employment, had they been drinking at a bar, had they been given the keys by someone who knew the driver to be reckless? Another area to focus on is how did the vehicle’s safety systems perform during the accident? Evaluating a vehicle’s safety system performance is called
Crashworthiness is the science of preventing or minimizing serious injuries or death following an accident through the use of vehicle safety systems. There are five crashworthiness principles:
1. Maintain survival space
2. Provide proper restraint throughout an accident
3. Prevent ejection of any body part
4. Distribute and channel energy properly
5. Prevent post crash fires
This paper will target those vehicle defect areas that are routinely seen in real world accidents:
WHEN CRASHWORTHINESS CASES ARE FEASIBLE
Not every case can justify the costs of pursuing a crashworthiness case. However, when your client is catastrophically injured or killed, if your client is rendered an amputee or is blinded, or if they will have medical issues that will cause them permanent and embarrassing conflicts the remainder of their lives, then a crashworthiness case can be justified. However, there are many other hurdles to cross before a crashworthiness case can be successfully pursued. First, if your client is driving and they are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, walk away. Second, if your client is not likable, walk away. Third, if everyone in your client’s vehicle was killed and everyone in the bullet vehicle was killed, walk away. Fourth, do not be afraid to be afraid. Suing vehicle manufacturers is like jumping into a den of lions, cobras, and vermin. Be ready to get bruised, battered and beaten. Be ready to spend more time learning the nuances of engineering, physics, biology, engineering, and biomechanics before you have to focus on damages. Fifth, think outside the box. Do not let the manufacturer play its game plan. You need to steer the ship and drive the boat. Sixth, never forget that you must link defect with your client’s specific injury. Lastly, never be too proud to ask for help.
TYPICAL VEHICLE DEFECTS TO TARGET
Over time, vehicle defect trends have changed. Twenty five years ago, lap belt only, windowshade, motorized shoulder belt and outside the rail fuel tank cases were the majority of cases filed. However, as designs improve, old defects are replaced with new defects.
- ROOF CRUSH
- RESTRAINT SYSTEM DEFECTS
A. Ejection -Buckle Release
B. Ejection-Door Failure
C. Ejection- Seat Failure
D. Ejection- Reclined Seat
E. Ejection- Side Curtain/Canopy Airbags
F. Ejection- Glass/Glazing
- ENERGY DISTRIBUTION AND DISSIPATION
Vehicle Interior Padding
- FIRE PREVENTION
Crashworthiness cases remain viable throughout the country and I believe there should be a resurgence of crashworthiness cases since more vehicle models have more safety systems which often fail.
Many attorneys are also scared off from pursuing crashworthiness cases in death cases in some states because of damage caps. Do not ever turn a case down because of caps. These cases can be worked up efficiently, economically and responsibly. However, one must be practical. Do not reinvent the wheel. Do not hire every expert under the sun. Do not take every deposition. Insist on getting expert reports from the defense and then do not depose the expert. Take depositions via telephone or by videoconference. The targeted defects that have been discussed in this paper are just some of the hundreds of vehicle defects that may need to be explored. The only limit to defect evaluation is your imagination, so be creative, think outside the box and be willing to take risks.
When cases seem like they are at a dead end, target the vehicles safety systems to evaluate if they caused or enhanced otherwise preventable serious injuries or death. Your clients expect and deserve their attorney to adapt, overcome and improvise to ensure maximum recovery is achieved.
Dallas attorney Todd Tracy is widely recognized as one of America’s best product liability lawyers. Mr. Tracy has handled over 2,400 cases against every major vehicle, component part, and child seat manufacturer, and has also tried 124 crashworthiness cases against major manufacturers.
If you or your loved ones are seriously injured in a vehicle accident; please contact our law office at 214-324-9000. We specialize in only handling vehicle safety defect cases causing serious personal injuries for more than 2 decades and all across the United States.