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What Causes Vehicle Occupant Ejections?

red car in a serious accident into a tree

When most individuals hear about vehicle ejections, they automatically think of the prospect of a bicyclist or motorcyclist being thrown off their respective bikes. While those incidents are real and scary, ejections from cars are quite common too.

Automobile ejections happen under various circumstances. Below we’ll discuss these circumstances and their causes. We’ll also highlight injuries that most commonly result from these ejection accidents and let you know what options you have if you have the misfortune of having been hurt in one.

Different Types of Ejections That Can Occur

When most people think about ejections, they don’t realize two types of them may occur, including:

  • Complete ejections: These result in a motorist’s body becoming fully expelled from their vehicle. A vehicle occupant’s body generally comes to rest on the ground in an incident such as this.
  • Partial ejections: A motorist’s body is forced forward within the vehicle but never fully exits it. Motorists involved in these incidents often end up making contact with windshields, dashboards, side windows, seat belts, or vehicle roofs.

How Common Are Ejection Accidents?

Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that nearly 30% of fatalities resulting from car accidents involve vehicle ejections.

Other NHTSA data suggests that speed limits impact motorist ejection, and consequently, fatality rates. The federal agency’s statistics show that motorists who travel at less than 40 mph account for less than 10% of auto ejection victims. On the flip side of the coin, vehicle occupants involved in crashes at over 60 mph account for 18.6% of individuals who are ejected from their automobiles.

Causes of Ejection Accidents

Ejections don’t generally occur as a motorist travels down the roadway alone. It instead takes an instigating incident, like a situation requiring the motorist to apply their brakes quickly or a sudden forceful impact to lead to such an outcome. Scenarios that may fit this bill include:

Unexpected Hazards Entering a Motorist’s Path

These obstructions may include wildlife, pedestrians, or vehicles. An unanticipated stationary object that they quickly come upon may also cause an ejection. Any instance in which motorists must quickly brake to avoid hitting something may result in a front impact crash or a loss of control of the vehicle, resulting in a rollover incident. Either of these collision types can cause a motorist to be ejected from their vehicle.

Rear-End Crashes

Motorists most run the risk of being ejected from their vehicles when they’re struck from behind at a high rate of speed. This outcome often occurs because a vehicle occupant’s body continues to move forward even after the vehicle has come to a full stop. It often takes an inanimate object, such as a body colliding with an inanimate object like the ground, to put a stop to a body’s forward momentum.

How Seat Belt Use Impacts Ejection Rates

NHTSA officials contend that motorist safety restraint use greatly impacts how often ejections occur. Vehicle occupants who aren’t fastened into their cars by seat belts are more likely to be ejected from their vehicles and die.

In fact, data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chronicles how seat belt use can significantly reduce motorists’ likelihood of suffering a serious injury by 50% and risk of death by 45%.

How Defective Auto Parts Increase the Risk of Ejection

While the force of impact from a crash and a motorist’s failure to use their seat belt can certainly result in an auto accident, poorly manufactured or malfunctioning auto parts can too. Auto parts more likely to have flaws that result in ejections include:

  • Roofs
  • Door latches
  • Windows
  • Sunroofs

The combination of an unrestrained motorist and these auto part malfunctions can leave motorists vulnerable to a complete ejection, resulting in catastrophic injuries or death.

Injuries That Ejection Victims Most Commonly Suffer

Data published by the Insurance Information Institute (III) captured how an overwhelming majority (83%) of ejection incidents prove fatal.

Those motorists who are fortunate enough to survive being ejected from a vehicle may suffer injuries ranging from soft tissue ones to blunt force trauma resulting in:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries

The chance of vehicle occupants suffering a crush injury after becoming pinned between their vehicle and another object following an ejection incident is high. Suffocation and compression injuries, leading to amputation or paralysis, may result from this.

How an Attorney Can Help Following an Ejection Accident

New Mexico is an at-fault insurance state. Injured motorists must prove that another driver’s negligence resulted in them getting hurt if they want to hold them liable for paying their medical costs and other collision-related expenses.

Proving liability can be challenging following an accident. It’s even more so after an ejection one, though.

Any statements you make to responding police officers or insurance adjusters about whether you were wearing a seat belt at the time of your incident are likely to dictate how your case unfolds. If you were unconscious when paramedics arrived on the scene, then it’s likely that an accident investigator will have weighed in on whether a restraint was used or malfunctioned. The same might occur if you lost a loved one in an ejection incident.

Whether an ejected motorist was restrained or not and the potential that the seat belt malfunctioned will determine if an auto manufacturer can at least be found partially liable for the ejection. If you believe the manufacturer or another driver was responsible for the crash, hiring an attorney may be in your best interest.

Ejections often have life-altering outcomes. Scheduling a free consultation with Buckingham & Vega Law Firm and speaking to one of our attorneys can be the first step toward holding any liable parties accountable for your injuries or loved one’s untimely passing.

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