An occupant ejection is one of the most traumatic outcomes of a car accident in Pennsylvania. Upon impact, the driver or passenger of the car involved in the accident is literally ejected from the vehicle, most often through the windshield. Occupant ejection accidents are particularly notable because of their fatality rate: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that around 77 percent of occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle upon impact were killed either during the accident or shortly after.
Different Forms of Occupant Ejection
There are two types of occupant ejections, partial occupant ejection and full occupant ejection.
Full Occupant Ejection. A full occupant ejection occurs when a driver or passenger is thrown entirely from the vehicle, often landing in the road ahead or to the side.
Partial Occupant Ejection. A partial occupant ejection is when the driver or passenger of the vehicle is hanging from the car, usually through one of the side windows or the windshield.
While both forms of ejection are highly dangerous, a partial occupant ejection has slightly lower death rates.
What Causes an Occupant Ejection Accident in Pennsylvania?
In the event of a car accident there are four main components which may cause an occupant ejection, door failure, window failure, restraint failure, and a rollover accident.
Door Failure. There are accident situations in which a door malfunction contributes to the ejection of a driver or passenger. Most often, the door of the car was not closed all the way or the latch on the door was faulty and opened upon impact. In such a situation, a vehicle occupant can easily fall from the car.
Window Failure. Windows are necessary for many reasons, some more obvious than others. A side window or windshield protects vehicle occupants from wind and debris while the car is in motion. However, in the event of an accident, a window can keep a passenger or driver in the car. If a window is damaged in some way prior to the accident, or if it is simply shattered during the crash, an occupant is more vulnerable to ejection.
Restraint Failure. Seatbelt failure is the number one cause of occupant ejection accidents in the US. And this includes a device malfunction as well as situations in which occupants failed to even use a seatbelt. It’s been reported that the use of a seatbelt can reduce a vehicle occupant’s chance of being fatally ejected by 45 percent and reduces the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.
Rollover Accident. These are one of the most fatal accidents occurring in the US. In 2000 the Department of Transportation reported that 3 percent of vehicle crashes were rollover accidents — however, these accidents represented 20 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities. One of the reasons why a rollover accidents in Pennsylvania can be so fatal is because they often result in occupant ejections. In fact, more than half of fatalities caused by rollover accidents involved the ejection of an occupant.
Occupant Ejections Are More Common in Larger Vehicles
Smaller passenger vehicles involved in accidents occasionally experience occupant ejections, but the largest number of ejections occur among larger vehicles like SUVs and light trucks.
In 2009, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that, in a given year, 3,342 unrestrained occupants were ejected from smaller passenger vehicles while 4,848 unrestrained occupants were ejected from larger vehicles, including pickup trucks, minivans, and vans.
What Injuries Are Commonly Associated with Occupant Ejections?
While occupant ejection accidents in Pennsylvania can often be fatal, victims of these accidents are known to survive, granted they usually sustain traumatic injuries. The following are some of the most common injuries associated with occupant ejections in PA:
Many occupant ejections happen as the result of a vehicle defect. Whether it is a seatbelt defect, door defect, airbag defect, or another type of defect, any vehicle malfunction which causes an occupant ejection warrants the pursuit of a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania to seek compensation for property damage, pain & suffering, or wrongful death.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.