Study Shows Women at Higher Risk Than Men in Car Wrecks
We have all heard about gender gaps in different areas of our lives. Differences in our elected leaders, job types, and earnings are all applicable to gender. One new gender-based statistic that has recently been identified is that women are at much greater risk to sustain serious or fatal injuries in car wrecks then men are. Researchers from the University of Virginia examined injuries in 31,254 belted occupants in 22,854 head-on crashes between 1998 and 2015. Women were 73% more likely to suffer serious injuries or death than men in car wrecks.
Researchers even factored in the size difference between women and men and relative distance from the steering wheel when analyzing the data, and still found women to be at a higher risk.
So what gives? Why is there such a substantially increased risk of serious injury or death? It turns out that there is a lack of female-specific crash safety data. The standard crash test dummy is a 50th percentile male that represents the average U.S. soldier in the 1960s. In the early 2000s, a female crash dummy was added, but it represents the 5th-percentile woman, under 5 feet tall and weighing 108 pounds or less. Crash tests, therefore, do not consider the other 95 percent of women.
Also, the female test dummy is just a smaller version of the male test dummy and does not account for the differences in muscle strength, fat distribution and bone density among other things that make women’s bodies tolerate trauma differently than a man’s. The head researcher indicated that there is simply not enough information on the biomechanics of female occupants, or an understanding of the specific factors that create a higher risk for women.
In the context of what we do at the McCraw Law Group, this study is important. Our attorneys regularly argue with insurance adjusters, their lawyers and biomechanical experts about the degree of trauma necessary to cause significant harm. Trauma harms us all differently. This study will be another arrow in the quiver to shoot down defense arguments about “minor” trauma not possibly causing injury, especially to female occupants.
Also, this study could prove very helpful in automobile product liability “crashworthiness” cases. Manufacturers have a duty to manufacture vehicles that withstand expected impacts within the current engineering state of the art and not sustain serious injury or death. The defense in some of these cases is often “we made it in accordance with federal standards” or “in accordance with our test dummy results.” Both of these defenses miss the mark.
This study shows that by not testing specifically for damage to women, these manufacturers may have put women at risk of serious injury or death. Manufacturers cannot hide behind poorly designed tests, especially in light of this significant research.
If you are a woman who has been involved in a car accident, you have a right to pursue compensation. Do not let insurance companies downplay your injuries and trauma. Call the McCraw Law Firm to schedule a consultation and hold the negligent parties accountable.