Renowned Trial Lawyer Fights To Protect Vehicle Accident Victims Whose Safety Systems Have Failed
Thousands of people are catastrophically injured or killed each year on America’s roadways. On some occasions, no vehicle safety design principle would have prevented the serious injury or death. On many other occasions, however, vehicle safety designs directed toward providing maximum occupant protection would have prevented these needless, senseless, and endless tragedies. Yet, the vehicle industry has repeatedly refused to accept responsibility for these catastrophic injuries and deaths.
“For too long, the vehicle industry has put profits before consumer safety. Vehicle defect lawyers like me force the vehicle manufacturers to put consumer safety first. You put you and your family’s safety first, why shouldn’t the vehicle industry?” asks Dallas trial lawyer E. Todd Tracy, whose focus on handling vehicle crashworthiness cases around the country has brought him national acclaim and recognition.
Vehicle crashworthiness is the science of preventing or minimizing serious injuries or death following an accident through the use of the vehicle’s safety systems. There are five vehicle crashworthiness safety principles that every production vehicle must accomplish in the event of an accident: (1) maintain survival space; (2) provide proper restraint throughout the entire accident; (3) prevent ejection; (4) distribute and channel energy away from the occupants; and (5) prevent fire following the accident. These safety principles were initially developed in the 1950s to protect American soldiers who had crashed in fixed-wing planes. These safety principles were then adopted by the aeronautics and racing industries and, in the late 1960s, were finally implemented into production vehicles.
“My goal is to have the same safety systems on every vehicle, regardless of price, because the safety systems are becoming more affordable each year,” says Mr. Tracy. Unfortunately, there are those who say this is a pipedream and will never happen; however, according to Mr. Tracy, “there are compact vehicles sold outside the United States that, right now, have better safety systems on their entry level model vehicles than certain luxury vehicles sold here in America.”
Vehicle crashworthiness cases focus on who caused the injury or death, not who caused the initial accident. Airbags, seatbelts, strong roof and seat structures, and fuel systems that cannot be breached are not designed to prevent accidents from happening. Rather, they are designed to protect you after an accident has happened. A typical vehicle industry defense is to blame the serious injuries and deaths on whoever caused the accident.
“I frankly never care about who caused an accident or why the accident happened. I care about how did the safety systems perform once the accident occurred. To me, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor, tall or short, fat or thin, or how intelligent you may be, a vehicle’s safety systems don’t know who you are and don’t discriminate—they should perform even if you caused your own accident,” says Mr. Tracy.
The TRACY firm has been battling the vehicle industry for over 20 years. E. Todd Tracy has tried 119 cases against GMC, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Ferrari, TRW, Key Safety, Allied Signal, Breed, Takata, JCI, and Dorel Juvenile Group. “Even on cases that we’ve lost at trial, the vehicle industry knew that if safety changes weren’t forthcoming, the next jury would punish them for sticking their head in the sand and doing nothing. In the end, society ultimately benefits by forcing the vehicle manufacturers to care more about safety,” says Mr. Tracy.
Besides being a trial advocate for vehicle safety, part of being an effective vehicle safety watchdog requires research and testing. So, the TRACY firm routinely sponsors research testing outside of litigation to evaluate how to better protect children, small females, and anyone involved in rollover accidents. This research is conducted at universities and the papers are published in engineering journals. The TRACY firm also conducts testing that it shares with other lawyers so they, too, can learn how to handle cases against vehicle manufacturers so that consumers can be better protected. “It is an honor to teach the next generation of attorneys so they can continue the fight to make vehicles safer which in turn will protect citizens and benefit society.”