An auto accident can be devastating. Consumers know that driving is inherently risky, which is why most people take a good, hard look at the safety features on the vehicles they buy.

 One of the most important safety features of any vehicle is its inherent “crashworthiness.” Crashworthiness is generally defined as a vehicle’s ability to withstand a collision and keep its occupants safe from harm. While no vehicle is immune from damage to outside forces, some are better than others at preventing secondary injuries — the ones that come when a driver’s body is thrown against the inside of the vehicle as it comes to a screeching halt.

 When a vehicle’s safety features don’t operate as they were intended or as one might reasonably expect under the circumstances, it fails the crashworthiness test. Unfortunately, that usually means that someone ends up seriously injured, suffering from wounds that could have been prevented.

 In some cases, those injuries may be more serious than anything caused by the initial accident. For example, a fender-bender with another vehicle at a low speed wouldn’t be likely to cause you a serious injury. That is, unless the seatbelt in your car is badly designed and it cuts across your neck and shoulder when it locks into place, causing nerve damage.

 Generally, automobile manufacturers are supposed to anticipate danger and build their vehicles to be as safe as reasonably possible in accidents, given the currently available technology and knowledge of mechanics and design. When they fail and you’re injured as a result, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for some of your losses.