Roof crush refers to the amount of cave-in a passenger vehicle's roof sustains in a rollover accident. When the roof intrudes too far into the passenger compartment during a rollover, it causes windows and doors to break open and reduces headroom. Open doors and windows allow unbelted occupants to be ejected from the vehicle. Reduced headroom causes belted passengers to come into hard contact with the vehicle's roof. In either scenario, serious harm often results.
Being hurt in a rollover accident is cause for a roof defects lawsuit. Victims of a car accident involving roof crush may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Learn more by reviewing the information below, or contact a personal injury attorney.
Roof Defects and "Strict Liability"
In cases involving defective automotive products, including roof defects, strict liability laws are applied. These laws require the victim of an accident involving a defective product to prove that the product 1) caused harm and 2) was "unreasonably dangerous." Unlike plaintiffs in other tort cases, plaintiffs in car defect caused accident cases do not need to prove negligence in order to receive compensation from insurance companies or court awards. Product liability lawsuits may be filed on grounds of insufficient warning labels or directions, design flaws, errors made during manufacturing and other causes.
To prove harm done, injuries must be directly linked to the defective roof. Sadly, deaths are not uncommon in motor vehicle accidents involving roof crush. People who survive often sustain catastrophic injuries. These injuries may include:
- Amputation or lost limbs
- Broken bones or fractures
- Neck and head injuries, including traumatic brain injury
- Paralysis or spinal cord injuries
- Road abrasions
To help your insurance company or your personal injury attorney prove that a defective roof caused your injuries and win a product liability lawsuit, you should take appropriate steps to preserve evidence from the wreck.
Compensation for Roof Crush Injuries
Two types of compensation may be awarded to victims of defective roofs compensatory damages and punitive damages. Insurance companies and juries award compensatory damages to victims in order to compensate for financial losses caused by the accident. Compensatory damages reimburse victims for medical expenses, lost income, physical and psychological pain, and lost prospects. The value of compensatory damages is determined using a formula that considers, among other things, the extent of the injuries sustained.
Punitive damages, which are intended to penalize the liable party and prevent similar accidents in the future, vary greatly depending on the case. Each state has different methods of determining this value.
Causes of Roof Crush
Roof crush occurs when a passenger vehicle flips upside down in a rollover accident. The degree of crush depends upon the strength of the roof's component parts: pillars, cross-members, metal panels, windshield headers and so forth.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines roof crashworthiness standards for passenger vehicles. Standard 216 requires that a passenger vehicle pass a static test, during which a heavy flat device is pressed down on one side of the vehicle's roof at 13 millimeters per second until it reaches a force equal to 1.5 times the unloaded vehicle's weight. To pass the test, the vehicle's roof must be able to withstand the force of the weight without intruding more than 5 inches into the passenger compartment. For example, the roof of a passenger vehicle that weighs 3,000 pounds must be able to withstand 4,500 pounds of weight without caving in more than 5 inches.
Unfortunately, meeting the strength requirements of Standard 216 in the laboratory does not ensure a vehicle roof will maintain its structural integrity in an actual rollover accident at highway speeds.
If you suspect a defective roof contributed to your injuries, a products liability attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for compensation.
When You Might Need a Products Liability Attorney
Most motor vehicle accident claims are filed with insurance companies. However, in complex cases such as those involving a defective roof, the assistance of a personal injury lawyer may be needed in order to arrive at a settlement with the insurance company. You also might benefit from consulting a lawyer if a claim is delayed or denied. Products liability attorneys lend their expertise to a variety of unique cases to help victims receive the compensation to which they are entitled. Victims of defective roof related accidents and other defective products cases are often eligible for compensation for their medical expenses, psychological pain, lost opportunities and lost income. In addition, wrongful death attorneys can file a wrongful death claim if you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence.
Defective automotive products belong to a class of liability known as "strict liability," which means that you do not have to show that the responsible party was negligent. The fact that the product is defective is sufficient.