Weak Roofs and SUV Defects
Automobile manufactures have known for decades that the roofs on their vehicles are weak and not capable of withstanding forces in a real-world rollover accident. This is especially true with SUVs. San Antonio sees more than its fair share of rollover accidents resulting in serious injury or death as the result of weak roofs and SUV defects. SUV’s with narrow track width are much larger track width. In combination with weak roofs and SUV defects, this is a dangerous combination for unsuspecting consumers of these vehicles.
In 2003, Sukhsagar Pannu was involved in a rollover accident in his Land Rover Discovery SUV. He suffered the loss of his arms and legs, putting him in the difficult situation of needing his family to prove constant care for him. Attorneys took the case went before a judge who ruled in favor of Mr. Pannu, citing improper design on the part of the SUV as the cause of Mr. Pannu’s injuries.
The judge ruled on the stability of the Discovery’s design noting that the vehicle would tip if the driver attempted to perform maneuvers to avoid a collision or other hazard. It was further stated that if there were minor modifications to the width of the wheelbase and the vehicle’s center of gravity, there would be dramatic improvement in protection against a rollover.
Attorneys discovered small enhancements to the roof support would result in significant improvements in the strength of the roof. These improvements could be implemented at a very low cost to the manufacturer, something Land Rover’s engineers acknowledged and did not disagree with. Additionally, the manufacturer’s senior engineer who had previously testified regarding future plans for the Discovery’s design and stated the improvements had already been available for implementation at the time Mr. Pannu’s vehicle left the factory floor.
The appellate Court further pointed out “Land Rover’s ability to credibly rebut this evidence was hampered by the fact that it implemented all of these improvements in the successor model, the Discovery Series II.” The evidence demonstrated that Land Rover knew of the dangers of rollover and corrected them in the design of the Discovery Series II. But the company failed to warn of the dangers of the rollover and roof crush to consumers who had purchased the Discovery Series I had a “steel inner body cage” and a “steel roof panel,” leading consumers and could withstand damage.
There are many models of this Land Rover, along with many other SUV models, still out on San Antonio roadways. These vehicles exhibit the same unstable design and weak roof on the road. The Pannu case is a prime example of corporate indifference to design defects and the tragic consequences of those design decisions. An accident such as this could also result in a larger collision such as a semi truck / 18 wheeler accident.
Several vehicles on the road have roof structures composed of thin sheet metal with built-in points of collapse that will allow the roof to buckle and crush downward in a rollover accident. The level of force in such a scenario can cause serious injury to the head, neck, and spine of any passengers in the vehicle. There are many vehicles whose windshield frames are only partly reinforced and will also buckle in such a manner as to cause injury to occupants. Such weak roofs and SUV defects are a major factor in rollover injuries and deaths in San Antonio.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately 35 percent of deaths to vehicle passengers are a result of rollover crashes. The type of vehicle rolling over greatly affects the number of deaths with 25 percent of these fatalities occurring when a car or minivan rolls over. In an SUV, however, that number jumps dramatically to 59 percent. Collisions such as these are preventable and there is no reason for you to be the victim of negligence on the part of an auto manufacturer. An attorney can help you in cases like this.
The team of attorneys at Carabin & Shaw knows what to look for in a rollover accident. When you contact us, a San Antonio SUV Rollover Attorney will work hard on your behalf to get to the bottom of your case and be sure you get the compensation you deserve.
In San Antonio, if you have any questions about the SUVs designed with weak roofs or SUVs that are unstable, please call our team of attorneys at 1.800.862.1260.