Car crashes are often due to a variety of causes. Driver negligence, inadequate road maintenance, poor weather conditions, and defects in one or more of the vehicles involved can all contribute to an accident and a victim’s injuries or death. When a rollover accident occurs after a collision with another vehicle in broad daylight and fair weather, reasonable speculation regarding possible causes may include driver negligence and a defect or defects in the vehicle that rolled over. Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, the 25-year-old who has started in every one of the Panthers’ games since he entered the league in 2011, suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back in just such an accident, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. According to reports, the truck occupied by Newton rolled over three times after it collided, in mid-day, with another vehicle on a bridge over Interstate 277 in North Carolina. No other serious injuries were reported to have been sustained by Newton or by the driver of the other vehicle.
Though the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is conducting an investigation.
The determination of car-accident causes and liability can be a complex process requiring the assistance of several different types of experts and attorneys knowledgeable and experienced in vehicle-accident as well as product-liability law. The Killino Firm’s accident and defective-products attorneys have extensive experience with vehicle-accident cases of every variety, including those arising out of accidents caused by defects in vehicles or vehicle components. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident of any kind, The Killino Firm’s team of injury and accident lawyers can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
Who Can Be Held Legally Responsible for Car-accident Injuries and Deaths?
As stated above, injuries suffered in accidents involving cars and other motor vehicles can be caused by any one or more of a number of factors. The lower-back injuries sustained by Cam Newton, for example, may have been caused by the negligence of the other driver. They may also have been contributed to by a defect or defects in the truck Cam Newton was driving.
Liability for Motor-vehicle Defects
Vehicles that roll over in crashes, as Cam Newton’s did, may contain defects that enable them to roll over too easily in vehicle accidents. They may also contain defects that provide insufficient protection to vehicle occupants when rollover crashes occur. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), 49 CFR § 571, et seq., which are developed and enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impose requirements on vehicle designers and manufacturers related to the safety of motor vehicles. These regulations require, among other things, that vehicles be designed in such a way as to prevent easy rollovers during impacts with other vehicles or objects.
FMVSS also include requirements related to the safety of vehicles in crashes. These requirements are commonly known as “crashworthy” requirements that are intended to reduce the number of injuries and deaths sustained in vehicle accidents. A crashworthy vehicle, stated in simple terms, is a vehicle with the ability to protect its occupants in the event of a crash. A vehicle designed with a roof that crushes and caves in during rollovers, for instance, may violate crashworthy regulations, because it does not adequately protect vehicle occupants during rollover crashes.
Vehicles that are designed and manufactured in violation of FMVSS may be found defective, or unreasonably dangerous, under product-liability law and lead to the liability of designers, manufacturers, and others for injuries and deaths determined to have resulted from these vehicle defects. Because cars and other vehicles are known to and likely to be involved in accidents, product-liability law requires that vehicles be designed and manufactured to keep occupants reasonably safe during crashes. Thus, violations of crashworthiness regulations may be found to render a vehicle unreasonably dangerous, or defective, in a product-liability action. Vehicles and vehicle components may also be found defective in product-liability actions even when vehicles are designed and manufactured in compliance with FMVSS, other regulations, and industry standards, however, if the vehicles or their components are found to be unreasonably dangerous for reasons other than regulation violations.
When a car or other vehicle is found to be defective, the designer, manufacturer, suppliers, assemblers, wholesaler, and, in some states, the retailer of the vehicle may be found strictly liable (i.e., without proof of negligence or knowledge of the defect) for injuries or death determined to have been caused or enhanced by the vehicle or vehicle-component defect. The designers and manufacturers of vehicle components, such as tires, airbags, seatbelts, and other safety equipment, may also be found strictly liable for injuries and deaths caused by defects in the components.
Liability for Driver Negligence
Driver negligence may or may not combine with vehicle defects to cause an accident or an accident victim’s injuries or death. If, in the accident in which Cam Newton was involved, for example, the negligence of the other vehicle’s driver is found to have caused the collision, that driver may be found liable in a negligence action for Newton’s resulting injuries.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm’s auto-accident and defective-products lawyers have earned national recognition for their dedication to holding vehicle and vehicle-component manufacturers responsible for injuries and deaths caused by vehicle defects. If you have been injured or one of your family members has died as a result of a motor-vehicle crash and you suspect that your injuries or loved one’s death was caused by someone’s negligence or a defect in a vehicle or vehicle component, The Killino Firm can help you fight for the justice you and your family deserve from all the responsible parties.