The concept of crashworthiness in regards to auto defects help victims of car accidents make a personal injury claim.

The law recognizes that car crash is also a foreseeable use of a vehicle.

So it is the responsibility of manufacturers to produce cars that reasonably protect the occupants in the event that it does get involved in a car accident.


Crashworthiness refers to the ability of the vehicle to protect its occupants from injuries in the event of a collision.

In a car crash, the occupants are subjected to two types of collision, which are;

  • The primary collision – this refers to the initial crash of the vehicle. It could be a single-car crash, a head-on collision crash, a t-bone crash, a sideswipe, or a rear-end collision.
  • The secondary collision – this happens inside the car and is triggered by the primary collision. This refers to the collision between the occupants and the interior of the car.

A crash worthy vehicle should be able to distribute the force of the collision's impact in a large area and over a great distance.

If the car achieves that, then the occupant's body will be subjected to less force thus reducing possible injuries that can be sustained from the car crash.

Some of the car features that add to the crashworthiness of the vehicle include:

  • Safety belts – Safely restrains occupant in seat, prevents being thrown forward in a collision and prevents vehicle ejection.
  • Airbags – Provides cushion and prevents collision of occupants with car interior.
  • Crumple Zones – These are designed to absorb majority of the force from the collision by collapsing upon collision.
  • Side impact zones – These refers to the side impact airbags and the car's framework that prevents penetration of foreign objects in the car.
  • Head rest – Prevents whiplash injuries by not allowing the neck to hyperextend when it rears back from a collision.


Determining liability through crashworthiness veers away form the usual negligence tort that is used in car accident cases.

Basically, you have to prove that the vehicle and its components were designed to be safe for any foreseeable use, including car crashes.

The problem lies in proving that the un-crashworthiness actually caused the injury or if it just aggravated the injuries sustained from the crash.

A car accident expert, personal injury lawyer should be able to help you determine which is which, and what tort should be used in your case.