Semi Truck Accidents

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.

And manufactures have known for years instability in their SUV’s. SUV’s with narrow track width are much larger track width. Both of these design defects-weak roofs and narrow track width-are a dangerous combination for unsuspecting consumers of these vehicles.

With respect to stability design, the Court in Pannu established that the production Discovery would tip under evasive steering maneuvers and that slight modifications to the track width and center of gravity of the vehicle dramatically improved its rollover resistance. Similarly, modest enhancement of the roof support of the production Discovery yielded substantial gains in roofs strength. The new improvements could be achieved at a modest cost. Land Rover did not rebut any of these showings. Moreover, Land Rover’s senior engineer who testified about the design goals of the Discovery acknowledged these modifications were available and could have been made at the time Pannu’s vehicle was manufactured.

The appellate Court further pointed out that “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.

Sadly, there are many models of this Land Rover still out on the highways today. Also, there are many other SUVs with the very 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. If you have any questions about the SUVs designed with weak roofs or SUVs that are unstable, please call 1.800.862.1260.
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