Occupants of small vehicles have greater risk of injury

Connecticut consumers who are attracted to smaller cars should consider that compact vehicles fare poorly in most crashes. Even if their crash ratings appear to be good, those figures might not be based on scenarios with larger and heavier vehicles.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crash testing has only begun in the past few years to look at impacts between vehicles of different sizes. Testing had traditionally evaluated how a vehicle reacted in an accident with a vehicle of similar size or against a fixed barrier. In 2009, the institute collected data on crashes between minicars or subcompacts and midsize sedans. Tests always showed that the larger vehicle came through the crash in better condition than the smaller vehicle.

The reality that larger and heavier objects inflict more damage on smaller objects than they receive translated into more injuries for passengers inside smaller vehicles. Despite strides ahead in car safety, the institute reported that the smallest and lightest vehicles produced accident fatality rates twice as high as the deaths arising within heavier vehicles. Smaller cars simply had less mass to absorb the energy of an impact, which meant that greater forces reached the occupants and caused more injuries.

The size of a vehicle, however, does not influence the assignment of liability when crashes occur. A person hurt in a crash might recover damages, like compensation for medical bills and lost income, if the other driver appears to have caused the wreck. An attorney could evaluate the case to see how the law might assign liability. To build a personal injury claim, an attorney might find a crash reconstruction specialist who could provide testimony about the circumstances of the accident. This evidence could support an insurance claim or possibly persuade a jury to award damages.