The roof is an important structural component of a vehicle and is critical in keeping the occupant safe
To protect occupants in a rollover, maintaining survival space is very important. Survival space is the area around an occupant that remains free of intrusion in an accident. It is the area in which an occupant is able to “survive” the crash. The roof is part of the structural support of a vehicle and is therefore a critical component in keeping the occupant safe.
If a roof crushes substantially during an accident, from a failure of the side rails, headers or support pillars, catastrophic injuries can occur. Often, this decreased survival space results in the occupant’s head impacting some portion of the vehicle causing death, paralysis or brain damage. Sometimes, the occupant can even be partially ejected through an opening created during roof crush.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed an upgrade Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 216 (FMVSS 216) would require that a roof withstand an applied force equal to 2.5 times the vehicle’s weight while maintaining sufficient headroom for an average size adult male. The current standard is 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight. Consumer groups, led by the People Safe in Rollovers Foundation, call for an even stronger standard of at least 3.5 times the vehicle’s weight.
The new standard also would for the first time extend roof strength standards to vehicles with gross weight ratings up to 10,000 pounds. The current standard applies only to vehicles with ratings up to 6,000 pounds, which means about 44 percent of the SUV and pickup fleets currently are exempt.
On September 30, 2003, a Nebraska jury awarded approximately $19.5 million to Penny Shipler, a 36-year-old mother left paralyzed from the neck down in a 1997 accident. She was a passenger in a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer when the vehicle was involved in an accident and rolled over. The roof crushed on Ms. Shipler causing her to suffer a complete spinal cord injury.
General Motors ignored the problem
GM has known for many years that their roofs are too weak. Instead of making the roofs stronger, it relies on inadequate government standards that fail to require manufacturers to conduct dynamic rollover tests on their roofs. GM has failed to build its vehicles with sturdier roofs, and, as a result, people like Ms. Shipler continue to be severely injured or killed. What happened to her was foreseeable and certainly could have been avoided.
There may be a roof crush lawsuit if the roof has deformed or crushed or opened over the occupant’s head by deforming sideways.
Do you have a roof crush claim?
If your loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as a result of roof crush injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.
Please contact our roof crush lawyers today by filling out the brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number (1-800-898-2034) for a free, no-cost, no-obligation legal evaluation of your case.