Are SUVs Safer Than Passenger Cars? What To Do If You've Been Injured in an SUV Car Accident
Commercials, salespeople, and even reputable organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) often tell us that SUVs are safer. The IIHS, for instance, states that SUVs are less likely to suffer serious damage than cars due to their larger size and weight. However, that's only part of the story. Recent crash studies show that SUVs aren't as safe as we're told.
Read to learn more about SUVs and whether they're actually safer than passenger cars. We'll also cover the safety features you should look for in an SUV, what kind of accidents can happen to an SUV, what injuries you can get from an SUV crash, and what to do after an SUV accident. By the end of this guide, you'll learn how Morris & Dewett's Texas and Louisiana personal injury lawyers can help you seek justice after an SUV accident.
Is an SUV Actually Safer Than a Passenger Car in a Crash?
SUVs are not necessarily safer than passenger cars or sedans. While SUVs generally provide better crash protection due to their larger sizes, a person is 11% more likely to die while driving or riding in an SUV than a regular sedan. SUVs are also:
- Twice as likely to roll over than passenger cars, increasing the likelihood of fatality, occupant ejection, and injury.
- More likely to cause catastrophic injuries to pedestrians since they sit higher off the ground compared to sedans. As a result, their bumpers will collide with pedestrians' vital organs and rib cages. In contrast, sedans are shorter, so they are more likely to clip someone's legs and send them flying to the top of the car, which is typically bouncy like a metal trampoline. Injuries resulting from such crashes are painful but not as likely to be fatal.
- More likely to cause fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SUVs only account for a third of pedestrian collisions, but they cause close to 40% of fatalities.
Recent tests by insurance companies showed that most small SUVs failed the latest frontal crash tests. Specifically, only the Volvo XC40 and Ford Escape got a “good“ rating. The Toyota RAV4 was deemed "acceptable," and the Nissan Rogue, Audi's A3, and the Subaru Forester were "marginal." The rest of the SUVs in the studies received the bottom rating of "poor.” These included:
- Buick Encore
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Honda HR-V and CR-V
- Jeep Compass
- Jeep Renegade
- Hyundai Tucson
- Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
- Mazda CX-5
The tests also revealed that while updated features like airbags, vehicle structures, and seat belts have made the SUVs safer for front-seat passengers and drivers, the risk of fatal injury for rear-seat passengers remains high at 46%.
Additionally, although safety belts restrain back-seat passengers, these passengers remain susceptible to neck and head injuries. Back-seat passengers are also susceptible to abdomen injuries since many SUVs have low-tech belts that tighten up in a crash. In contrast, safer automobiles have sophisticated belts in their back seats that loosen after impact instead of tightening into the abdomen.
What Safety Features Should I Look For When Buying an SUV?
If buying an SUV seems like the right choice for you, get an SUV with the following safety features to protect yourself from potential crashes:
- Blind-spot cameras. A blind-spot camera displays live feeds on the instrument cluster or infotainment screen that shows what the camera sees. Depending on the car you get, your blind-spot camera may also come with a "rear cross-traffic alert" system, which tells you whether traffic is approaching from the sides when you're backing out of a parking space.
- Traction control systems: Also known as TC, traction control is an active safety function that helps keep an SUV's grip between the road and the tires in dangerous or slippery situations. It uses the same sensors as the anti-lock braking system (ABS) to prevent or reduce wheelspin.
- Automatic emergency braking (AEB): AEB identifies when a possible crash will happen and responds by activating the brakes to slow or stop the SUV before the impact happens. AEB technology typically uses cameras, radar, or LiDAR to spot threatening situations.
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC). ACC systems help SUVs stay within the speed limit and maintain a safe following distance. They let you pick a desired speed until your SUV encounters slower-moving traffic. It will then brake to maintain distance from the automobile in front of you. Once the traffic starts moving or the car in front leaves, ACC will accelerate to your original set speed.
- Lane centering assistance (LCA). LCA provides automatic steering so your SUV is always in the middle of the lane.
- Lane departure warning (LDW). LWD systems provide audible, visual, and tactile warnings like seat or steering wheel vibrations to alert you when your SUV crosses or approaches lane markings.
- Lane-keeping assistance (LKA). LKA offers steering support to prevent the SUV from departing the lane.
What Kind of Accidents Can Happen to an SUV?
Unfortunately, SUV safety features don't always prevent accidents. As with all vehicles, SUVs can get into a wide range of accidents, including:
- Rollovers. As previously discussed, SUVs are twice more likely than passenger cars to roll over, thanks to their size, weight distribution, and shape.
- Occupant ejection. Some SUVs have doors that open and eject occupants during a rollover.
- Pedestrian accidents. SUVs are more likely to catastrophically injure pedestrians since they are higher off the ground than passenger cars. As a result, they are more likely to hit pedestrians' rib cages and vital organs.
- Rear-end collisions. These accidents happen when an SUV crashes into the vehicle in front of it. They usually happen when drivers follow too closely or fail to pay attention to the road.
- Side-impact collisions. These crashes happen when the side of one or more vehicles is affected. They usually happen in parking lots or at intersections.
- Head-on collisions. These accidents happen when the front ends of two vehicles hit each other when moving in opposite directions. They can happen with other vehicles or stationary objects like light poles, trees, and cement barriers.
- Single-vehicle accidents. These SUV accidents only involve one vehicle. Common examples include hitting a tree on the side of the road or the car in front of you.
- Multi-vehicle accidents. These accidents involve more than one vehicle. They typically happen on highways and often cause catastrophic or fatal injuries to victims.
- Sideswipe accidents. These incidents happen when two automobiles moving in the same direction make contact. They typically happen because one of the two vehicles moved out of the lane when it was unsafe.
What Injuries Can I Get from an SUV Accident?
Like other automobile accidents, SUV collisions can cause various injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Scarring, burns, and lacerations
- Neck and head trauma
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord and back injuries
- Wrongful death
What To Do After an SUV Accident
SUVs aren't as safe as they seem. If you're caught in an SUV accident, here's what you can do to pursue justice and maximize compensation:
1. Call the Authorities and Stay at the Scene
First, you need to call the authorities and stay at the scene.
Texas law requires you to report crashes if someone is injured, someone has died, or the damage to one or more vehicles is over $1,000. Failure to report these incidents can result in jail time or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. You also need to stay at the scene — failing to stop after a car crash involving property damage, injury, or death can result in a felony or misdemeanor charge.
Similarly, Louisiana law requires you to immediately report an accident to the police if it involves death, injury, or property damage exceeding $500. It also requires you to stay at the scene of the accident and offer help. If you don't do this, you may be fined:
- Up to $500 and imprisoned for 10 days to six months if the accident did not cause serious injuries or death
- Up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both if the accident caused serious injuries or death
If you're not sure how much damage or injury you've caused, report the crash to the authorities to avoid getting in trouble.
2. Take Photos and Exchange Information
Once you've called the authorities, exchange information with the other drivers and passengers involved. You should also take pictures and videos of the accident scene and your injuries, if any, to keep an accurate record of what happened. Your attorney can later use this evidence to maximize compensation in court.
3. Seek Medical Help
Next, you should seek medical help, even if you feel normal. Some injuries don't manifest until days or weeks after the accident.
4. Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, contact a knowledgeable Louisiana and Texas car accident lawyer to fight for your rights. A reliable lawyer will determine whether you have a case and fight to get the justice you deserve. You can then decide to settle or go to court.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You After an SUV Accident
Although it's technically possible to represent yourself in court, you should hire a personal injury attorney in Texas and Louisiana to help you. The right lawyer can help you maximize your claim and pursue justice by:
Educating You About the Law
Lawyers are legal professionals who know Louisiana and Texas law like the backs of their hands. Therefore, they can identify the relevant laws and legal issues related to your SUV accident and give you an in-depth understanding of what you can expect to recover. They can also analyze the legal liability of the parties you intend to sue.
Increasing the Value of Your SUV Claim
Your lawyer can evaluate your injuries to maximize the damages you deserve for lost wages, treatment, medical care, therapy, pain and suffering, and more. If you determine an amount yourself, it may be too low.
Gathering and Preserving Evidence
Like all personal injury lawsuits, SUV legal actions rely heavily on evidence and reports to succeed. A skilled lawyer will gather and preserve a wide range of evidence to support your claim, including accident reports, police reports, medical reports, surveillance videos, photos, and eyewitness statements.
Accessing and Producing Expert Witnesses
Your lawyer can access and produce expert witnesses to bolster your claims, including:
- Medical and injury experts. These witnesses can provide testimonies about the number of injuries, the severity of your injuries, where your injuries are located, and what treatment you will require in the future.
- Rehabilitation specialists. These experts examine how your rehabilitation will affect your employment and how long it will take for you to return to your original job. Common examples include social workers and physical therapists.
- Economic experts. These experts will calculate the value of things that were damaged or lost in the accident, such as your car and lost wages. They can also identify more subtle losses like lost job opportunities and promotions.
- Accident reconstruction specialists. These expert witnesses will recreate your SUV crash to provide useful information, such as how the drivers' vision may have been restricted, whether a certain driver was careless, and the speed of each vehicle moments before the crash.
Communicating With the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
Insurance companies don't have your best interests in mind. Accordingly, they will probably offer you a low offer to settle your SUV claim as quickly as possible. Fortunately, your lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies for fair compensation based on your losses. One of the elements of fair compensation is evaluating both the short-term and long-term costs of recovery. For example, broken bones may heal but a brain injury may have lifelong consequences. A good client-centered law firm will evaluate the totality of compensation needed for a person to be made whole. Insurance companies do not have any obligation to perform this research and case evaluation.
Ultimately, a personal injury lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to achieve a fair settlement but if the insurance company refuses, you may have to go to trial. A competent, prepared attorney with trial experience will make sure your case will be passionately advocated before a jury. The irony is that the better reputation your attorney has in trial the more likely it is that the opposing counsel will seek a settlement. Large corporations generally prefer a predictable settlement to a jury's judgment, yet nothing is ever guaranteed.
Offering Peace of Mind
Lastly, a personal injury lawyer will handle every step of your lawsuit, giving you plenty of time to recover from your injuries.
If you have questions Morris & Dewett is pleased to help.
SUVs aren't necessarily safer than passenger cars. Ironically, the average person believes they are safer. Every class of motorized vehicle brings its own unique characteristics which change their performance in an automobile accident or other form of motor vehicle collision. Please be careful with any vehicle, and engage in enough research to be comfortable with your purchase.
If you or a loved one finds themselves in a motor vehicle accident, whether in an SUV, truck, or car contact us if you have any questions.
Morris & Dewett serves Texas and Louisiana and our consultations are free. We have over 1,200 five-star Google reviews because we focus on the client, provide excellent legal advice, and do whatever is within our power to make people whole. Feel free to contact us at 888-492-5532 or fill in this form. We are available 24/7 to help you.