Not long ago, SUV rollover lawsuits were filling the dockets at an alarming rate. While auto-safety improvements are still necessary, a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that the automakers quickly shored up safety defects in SUV and light-truck models.
The IIHS study found an average of 28 motorist deaths for every million vehicles that were 2011 models. For 2008 and 2009 models, that statistic was 48 deaths.
Undoubtedly, personal injury lawsuits helped spur this change. Far too many drivers and passengers were dying from rollover crashes in the 2000s, and product liability lawsuits held manufacturers liable for safety shortcomings. Some tried to blame SUV motorists but scientific data showed that many SUV models were unacceptably rollover-prone, and did not sufficiently protect occupants when rollovers occurred.
The rollover lawsuits collectively changed the way SUVs are designed and built.
It is the IIHS's opinion that electronic stability control has been the single biggest factor in the reduced number of driver fatalities. The technology has helped avoid fatal rollovers that plagued earlier models of SUVs and light trucks.
Other factors that likely contributed to the decrease in vehicle deaths include:
- Side air bags
- Structural improvements
- Less driving because of the economical recession
Here is the bad news. There are still cars out there with poor occupant-fatality rates. The worst offenders include:
- Kia Rio, four-door mini car (149 deaths per million vehicles)
- Nissan Versa, compact four-door sedan (130 deaths per million)
- Hyundai Accent, four-door mini car (120 deaths per million)
If you are seriously injured in an accident or lost a loved one, it is important to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. You may or may not have a case against the auto manufacturer, but a skilled attorney will examine the evidence and help you make that determination.