Occupant ejection accidents involve a driver or passenger getting completely or partially propelled from their car during a collision. Injuries resulting from accidents that involve occupant ejection can be extremely severe and even fatal. This is due to the sheer force of being thrown out from the vehicle and making contact with the ground, hard objects, or other vehicles. For ejected occupants in rollover collisions, the mortality rate is five times as much as other occupants.
Injuries Resulting from Occupant Ejection Car Accidents
According to the Insurance Information Institute, among all the car crashes occurring in 2017, 83% of the people who got ejected from their cars were killed. This high fatality rate is due to a combination of factors, including the initial impact post ejection and also any later impact with nearby objects and other vehicles.
Some of the common injuries that can happen due to ejection from a vehicle include:
- Blunt force trauma to the head
- Brain trauma and concussions
- Injuries to the face and cranium
- Back and neck injuries
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
- Whiplash injuries
- Road rash and resultant scarring
- Serious disfigurement
- Partial or total paralysis
The medical costs that can come with these severe injuries can be very high and can include expenses for procedures like surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and counseling. Even if the victims of these accidents find themselves able to get back to work after recovery, there can often be chronic pain and an inability to take part in recreational activities. Damaged cognitive abilities, depression, personality and mood changes, and relationship breakdowns can easily result from brain injuries.
Different Types of Occupant Ejection Car Accidents
By and large, occupant ejection car accidents can be classified into two distinct categories:
- Partial Ejections: These happen when an occupant is about to be thrown from their vehicle but becomes trapped or restricted somehow. This results in a part of their body exiting the vehicle while the rest remains inside.
- Complete Ejections: These happen when an occupant is completely propelled from their vehicle. This entails a secondary point of contact after the propulsion with the ground, objects outside the vehicle, or other vehicles.
What Causes Occupant Ejection Car Accidents?
In order to avoid being ejected from their vehicles, people can adopt several precautions. One of the time-tested ways to avoid ejection is to wear a seat belt every time you get into a car.
A technical report published in 2009 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlined important data analysis on fatal car accidents over a period of five years and established the important risk factors that contributed to accidents involving occupant ejection. According to this report, the factors that most commonly contribute to occupant ejection car accidents include:
1. Failure To Wear a Seat Belt – The chances of being ejected from your vehicle can increase exponentially if you fail to wear your seat belt. The NHTSA report provides a clear contrast where only 2% of vehicle occupants with seat belts on faced ejection from their vehicles while a staggering 35.3% of those not wearing seatbelts were ejected. The risk of experiencing fatal or incapacitating injuries can also decrease substantially with seat belt use. This is borne out by the report which shows that 80% of all car applicants wearing seat belts escaped without injuries.
2. Driving Speed – An important factor in occupant ejection collisions is driving speed. According to the NHTSA report, only 9.6% of car occupants faced ejection at a speed limit of 40 mph or higher whereas 18.6% were ejected at speed limits of 60 mph or higher. The rates reached a whopping high of 23.5% in areas without statutory speed limits.
3. Vehicle Age – Occupant ejection rates are usually higher in older vehicles according to the NHTSA report. While the ejection rate for SUVs manufactured in 2005 was only 9.9%, the rate for SUVs built from 1989 to 1998 ranged between 21% and 24%.
4. Vehicle Type – NHTSA reports indicate that vehicle type has an important role in occupant ejection. Ejection rates are 29% for passenger cars, 32.4% for vans, 38.4% for pickup trucks, and 49.2% for SUVs, making them the most susceptible.
5. Point of Impact – The point of impact can determine the likelihood of occupant ejection. In the report, while ejection rates varied from 9.8% to 14.1% in all other collisions, rollover crashes seem to be the most dangerous with ejection rates of 42.9%.
6. Door Latch Defects – Being surrounded by the body of a truck or car can provide a false sense of security to many people. In reality, these vehicle bodies are definitely not foolproof. This was significantly demonstrated when 300,000 models of the Ford Focus were recalled in 2005 due to defective door latches. A defective door latch can cause the door to open at the most inopportune moments including during a car accident. This can contribute significantly to occupant ejection.
7. Weak Side Window Glass – It can be extremely important to prevent windshields from shattering during an accident, something that most car manufacturers emphasize on. However, the same standards sometimes do not apply to the safety glass on the side windows in many vehicle models. These windows lack the strength to keep vehicle occupants inside the car and can shatter on impact, thereby aiding occupant ejection.
Who is to Blame for Occupant Ejection Car Accidents?
To make a valid personal injury claim relating to occupant ejection car accidents, the injured party needs to establish that:
- The accident resulted from the recklessness or negligence of another party
- The accident caused quantifiable losses and injuries
Veteran personal injury attorneys experienced in car accidents involving occupant ejection, like those working at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP in New York can help you with investigating the accident and collecting evidence against the responsible parties. Your attorney would interview witnesses and work with medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and forensic experts to collect all the important data relevant to building a strong case.
Regarding Manufacturing Defects
A major contributing factor for occupant ejection accidents can be vehicle manufacturing defects. The most common ones include:
- Weak side window glass
- Malfunctioning door latch
- Malfunctioning seat belts
It is the duty of car manufacturers to conduct safety trials and crash tests before selling and distributing their vehicles. However, manufacturers often market vehicles that have good safety specifications on paper but do not provide adequate protection in real-life accident scenarios.
If this is what caused your accident, you do not need to prove negligence on the part of the vehicle manufacturer. You can seek damages just by proving beyond doubt that the accident resulted on account of the manufacturing defect. Of course, you would need the services of an aggressive attorney who would push for just compensation on your behalf.
Hiring the Right Attorney to Prosecute an Accident Involving Occupant Ejection
It can be expensive and complicated to deal with the injuries sustained from an occupant ejection car accident. It can also be challenging to determine the responsibility for the accident and this is where the skills of a seasoned personal injury attorney specializing in these cases can come in really handy. For you to be able to build a strong case, fault can be determined through a number of factors, including:
- Ascertaining whether the airbags worked properly or were defective
- Determining how the actions of other drivers in the vicinity contributed to the accident
- Determining whether the ejected occupant was wearing a seat belt and if it had malfunctioned
- Determining whether the driver was distracted or impaired during the accident
- Ascertaining whether the vehicle tires blew out, shred, or failed prior to the accident
To be eligible to receive financial compensation, the accident victim will require a strong claim against the insurance company either for settling out of court or choosing to file a suit to have the case heard at trial. Witnesses would need to be contacted, medical records would need to be examined, road conditions would need to be evaluated, and the involved vehicle would need to be tested thoroughly. Once concrete responsibility has been established by the attorney, the appropriate documentation can be turned over to the insurance company for financial compensation.
The injury victim can expect to recover financial compensation that is substantial enough to cover every expense relating to the accident including current and future medical costs, rehabilitation costs, compensation for lost wages due to missed work, and appropriate compensation for the pain, suffering, and mental trauma caused by the accident.
Getting Help from Competent Vehicle Ejection Attorneys in New York
Having skilled and experienced attorneys on your side can definitely help you build a strong case after an occupant ejection accident. We at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP are committed to working on your behalf to give you the best chance of getting back to normal life after an accident with a well-deserved financial compensation. Start a consultation with us by filling out our online contact form or call us directly at (347) 504-1246.