Catastrophic Roof Collapse During Car Accident Allegedly Caused by Defective Structural Components

Cody Porcoro

Written by
— Updated on November 14, 2017

Automotive Expert WitnessThis case involves a 2012 model year sedan that was involved in a fatal crash. At the time of the incident in question, the car was occupied by five members of a family on their way to a new year’s celebration. During the drive, the car traveled across a patch of black ice and lost traction at high speed. When traction returned the car was thrown off the road, where it flipped and landed on it’s roof. All of the roof pillars collapsed completely, killing all of the vehicle’s occupants. It was claimed that the pillars should not have collapsed, and that their failure was the result of a manufacturing or design defect.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience working with the design or manufacturing of automobiles.

Expert Witness Response E-029676

My specific background is in mechanical engineering failure analysis for structures and systems of all types, and most notably those that are regulated by US or industry standards. The vehicle roof was crushed upon impact due to failure of the support columns. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 216 (Roof Crush) in effect at the time for vehicles under 6000 lbs. GVWR established the roof crush strength of passenger cars, multi-purpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses. The standard required that a large steel test plate be placed in contact with the roof of the vehicle and pressed downward with steadily increasing force until a force equivalent to 1.5 times the unloaded weight of the vehicle is reached. At that load, the test plate (roof) cannot have moved downward more than 5 inches from the original position. The manufacturer would have been required to test this model for roof crush. If the vehicle weighed more than 6000 lbs., it may have been exempt.

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