Crashworthiness Claims Get your
Free Consultation
Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers

July 20, 2019

Crashworthiness Claims

Vehicle Crashworthiness – What is it?

Crashworthiness is defined as “the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident.” If a vehicle is “worthy” of a crash, it has the ability to protect its occupants. For a vehicle to be “crashworthy” it must:

  • maintain occupant survival space;
  • manage collision energy;
  • restrain occupation;
  • prevent ejection; and
  • prevent fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) is responsible for developing and improving test procedures used to evaluate vehicle safety. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries that occur on roads in the U.S. each year.

The NHTSA promulgated the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (“FMVSS”) which set forth minimum standards that a vehicle must meet in order to be sold in the U.S. Most of the standards are performance standards which set forth how a vehicle must perform under various circumstances. The FMVSS also contains design standards which set forth how certain vehicle components are designed or placed in the vehicle.

A Vehicle That Is Not Crashworthy is Defective

Vehicle manufacturers are required to design and build vehicles that protect occupants.  A vehicle that is not crashworthy is defective.  When a vehicle is defective, the manufacturer, seller and others may be responsible for harm caused in a product liability lawsuit. A few types of “crashworthiness” claims include:

1. Seatbelt Claims – Seatbelt system failure or design defect claims often arise when an occupant is ejected from the vehicle, is injured by the seatbelt or comes into contact with the structures of vehicle despite being belted.

2. Failure to Equip. – A vehicle manufacturer may be liable for failing to equip a vehicle with safety technology that was available when the vehicle was made. Examples include lack of side curtain airbags, stability control, laminated glass, lane departure warning or assistance, or emergency brakes.

3. Stability Claims – Stability claims arise when a crash occurs due to a lack of on-road stability that can lead to a rollover or loss of control.

4. Seatback Claims – Seatback claims may arise when the occupant’s seat fails to perform during a wreck including seat back collapse or deformation which can lead to catastrophic injuries to the seat occupant or those sitting behind the failed seat. Child safety seats can also fail to perform due to improper design or manufacture.

5. Roof Crush – Roof crush claims may arise when the vehicle fails to maintain passenger survival space during a crash, especially a rollover. A weak vehicle roof will collapse during a rollover and potentially cause significant head and neck injuries.

6. Tire Defects – A properly manufactured and maintained tire should not fail before the end of its service life. An example of a tire defect is tread separation where the top steel belt and tread detach from the rest of the tire on a moving vehicle. This causes loss of vehicle control which can be devastating at highway speeds. Manufacturing defects are the most common cause of tread separation and can occur due to lack of quality control, poor materials, lack of proper training, or poor plant maintenance.

7. Vehicle Structure Defects – A vehicle structure defect can result in a variety of issues including failing to keep occupants in the vehicle during a wreck and intrusion of vehicle components into the occupants survival space. Structural defects can include glass failure, door failure and opening, and selection of materials that fail to preserve the survival space for an occupant.

8. Post Collision Fuel Fed Fires – Post collision fuel fed fires arise when a vehicle occupant is subject to a post-collision fire following a crash. This can occur due to defective design of the vehicle fuel system or a manufacturing defect. Common claims include fuel tank puncture or separation, improper design of the location of the fuel tank, lack of anti-siphoning devices or a check valve in the fuel filler pipe or lack of protection of the fuel system.

Preserving a Crashworthiness Claim

It is vitally important to act quickly if you suspect that you or a loved one has a potential crashworthiness claim. The general rule is “no car, no case.” The vehicle and its components must be secured and safely preserved. Along these lines, a vehicle may be equipped with a black box or event data recorder which can be downloaded to provide information including seat belt usage, air bag deployment and speeds.

Because of this, an attorney should be consulted as soon after a wreck as possible. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have been injured due to a vehicle defect we can help to investigate the claim, preserve necessary evidence and prosecute the claim which involves retaining appropriate scientific, engineering and medical professionals to prove the defect and that it was the cause of the injury.

In The News

Dec 01
The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

While some car accidents may be unavoidable and not any driver’s fault, such as a deer jumping into the road, most car accidents are preventable. There are many reasons or […]

Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?
Nov 01

The roads and highways of Indiana are full of large commercial trucks that transport goods across the state and country. The value of any given truck’s cargo is incredibly high, […]

What You Need to Know About Minors and Indiana Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Oct 01

Motorcycles are unique vehicles. They are a source of fun, entertainment, and convenient transportation. They’re particularly popular with young riders and passengers under 18. However, if you want to let […]

How Will I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
Sep 01

Unfortunately, many Americans are hurt in accidents each year. The National Safety Council estimates that there were more than 55 million injuries in 2020. If you were injured in an […]

Why Posting on Social Media After an Accident Can Hurt Your Case
Aug 28

You may have heard of “oversharing.” The term refers to sharing pictures or ideas too often or posting too much personal information online. Typically, oversharing is simply an annoying habit. […]


Custy Law Firm has redeemed the reputation lawyers face in the legal field. I’m so grateful for their professionalism, their communication skills as well as their knowledge of the law. […]

- Yolonda M

Brian and his team were extremely helpful to us in resolving our case (related to personal injury from a traffic accident).  Brian listened to what our goals were for the […]

- Saroj S.

As a medical professional, I would like to testify that Mr. Brian Custy is the best attorney I met in Indiana. I trust his knowledge, experience, and professionalism. The firm […]

- Fei L.

From the first visit at Custy Law , I felt completely comfortable that my Auto accident would be taken care of. It was as if a huge weight was lifted […]

- Glenn H.

I am extremely happy with the quality of service and guidance I have received with Custy. His staff are amazing and he is very professional and down to earth. He […]

- Erin C.

Custy Law Firm provides the highest level of professional and ethical services to its clients. Brian Custy and staff are deeply committed to obtaining justice for those harmed by the […]

- Lisa C.

My experience with The Custy Law Firm has been nothing short of fantastic. I knew very little after PA school regarding the reading, understanding, and negotiating of contracts when accepting […]

- Monica B.

We’ve known Brian for a long time and he’s excellent on many levels. He has always focused on learning, achieving his goals, and operating ethically. He’s friendly, hard-working, very professional, […]

- Jenne C.

Brian Custy helped me at a time I needed someone I could trust.  He was attentive, positive, thorough, knowledgeable, and professional in every exchange.

- Judy M.

To some they would think my case as minimal. Custy Law Firm treated me with the most respect and consideration. Thank you CLF.

- William C.

I originally tried to use our legal counsel from my union. I was getting lowball offers, and after I refused to accept their offer, I was fired by my very […]


Since day one i have received the best service that anybody can ask for. Mr. Custy and Melissa have been such caring and trustworthy people. They really make you feel […]

- Joel Marquart

“Mr. Custy is an excellent lawyer that not only takes care of business but actually takes the time to listen to his clients. Mr. Custy cares and that is why […]


I have had the pleasure of working with Attorney Custy for the past two years on two cases at the same time. This has been the hardest thing I have […]


“Brian Custy is a terrific lawyer that takes the time to walk you through the entire process, explaining all of the details that often times get overlooked. His follow-up was […]


“Mr. Custy is a very good lawyer. He goes out of his way to make sure he is doing the best he can for your case. He is always there […]


“ Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers has gone above and beyond while working on my case. I was injured on the job and Brian has given me […]

View All Testimonials
American Association for Justice Logo
Illinois State Bar Association Logo
Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys
National Trial Lawyers top 100 Attorneys Logo
NTL Top 10 for Trucking Litigation
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Indiana Trial Lawyers Assocation
Trial Lawyer's College Thunderhead Ranch Logo
American Association for Justice Logo
National Association of Distinguished Counsels
American Association for Justice Logo