Many things get better with age. Motor vehicles generally aren't one of them.
Some owners of vintage or classic cars may vehemently dispute this, but there is no denying that older vehicles - even those from just 20 years ago - just can't hold a candle to newer models when it comes to safety. We've seen this in statistics showing time and again that older vehicles are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes.
Now, a new crash test, presented by the ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program, which gives cars their safety ratings in Australia and New Zealand) found that when two vehicles - same make and model but manufactured 17 years apart - collided, the older vehicle was no match.
Disparate Vehicle Safety
At approximately 40 mph, the 1998 model sustained what researchers "catastrophic structural failure," with readings on the crash test dummy revealing "extremely high" risk of head, chest and leg injuries to the driver. Although the vehicle was up to safety standards of its day, it now rates with a zero out of five stars. Meanwhile the newer model, which received five out of five stars for safety, sustained far less damage. The structural integrity of the passenger cabin remained intact.
In general, we tend to see the drivers most at risk - teens and the elderly - in these older vehicles. Perhaps what is so striking is we don't have to go back to the vehicles of the 1980s or even the mid-1990s to see a dramatic difference in safety and occupant protection. Analysis by IHS Markit (a research group) found that vehicles 16 years or older are expected to grow by 30 percent to 81 million vehicles by 2021. Vehicles older than 25 years are expected to grow to more than 20 million by that same year.
Australian researchers concluded light passenger cars made prior to 2000 are associated with a risk of a fatal crash that is four-fold that of newer-model vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2016.
Wrongful Death Claims in Older Car Crashes
An experienced Albuquerque car accident attorneys would recognize that in any time there is a fatal crash, we're dealing no longer with an injury case, but a wrongful death lawsuit. Both types of claims must be filed within three years of the cause of action (see N.M. Stat. 41-2-2). Also like personal injury claims, wrongful death lawsuits require proof of negligence, meaning evidence that the at-fault driver/defendant owed a duty of care and breached that duty causing the decedent's fatal injuries.
Still, there are some key differences. For example, wrongful death lawsuits in New Mexico have strict limits on who has the right to file such claims and who is entitled to damages (spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and in some cases siblings, with stipulations on the descending order and percentages) and also what kind of damages may be collected (funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses of decedent, mental anguish of survivors, loss of companionship, loss of wages, loss of inheritance, loss of financial contributions of household, pain and suffering of decedent before death, etc.).
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal New Mexico car accident, we can help you explore all potential avenues to collect compensation.