New law regarding vehicle manufacturer obligations

The Illinois Supreme Court decided that, in the case of an under ride accident where one vehicle rear-ended a truck and proceeded unimpeded under its bed, that the vehicle manufacturer has no duty to design a vehicle that is safe to collide with. The decision created an ongoing debate over the concept of “enhanced injury,” in which a manufacturer is liable for defects in the vehicles that cause injuries beyond those that occurred from the accident but due to defective design.

So far, Illinois is a state of very few that does not place a duty on vehicle manufacturers to protect non-occupants who collide with their vehicles. In 1973, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its opinion and held that a vehicle manufacturer does not owe a duty to design a vehicle with which it is safe to collide. The plaintiff brought a wrongful death suit against the driver and manufacturer of a semi-trailer truck at the decedent rear-ended while turning off a highway. The plaintiff claimed that the manufacturer was negligent in designing the truck because it did not have under ride protection (i.e. bumper, fender, and shield) attached to the rear. The plaintiff claimed that the lack of rear equipment made it unsafe because it allowed the victim’s vehicle to proceed unimpeded under the truck’s bed. The court decided that, although under ride accidents may be foreseeable, the failure to equip the vehicles with prevention did not create unreasonable danger.

Since that first Illinois case, many others have argued similar cases and have yet to succeed and hold the vehicle manufacturers accountable for vehicle designs that are unsafe for non-occupants that may collide with the vehicles. Illinois has remained an outlier state and it has, in fact, expanded the case law from that 1973 case to explain “that the factors involved in each collision and the resulting injuries are unforeseeable to vehicle manufacturers as a matter of law.”

If you have been injured in a vehicles collision, be sure to create a case against the right people. Contact a Martoccio & Martoccio attorney today. These personal injury attorneys can help you in your case and get what you deserve in Illinois.

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