Jury Orders Nissan to Pay $4.2M Roof Defect Verdict

Nearly seven years after he was left with permanent disabilities in a car accident, Larry Clanton was awarded a $4.2 million roof defect verdict against Nissan by a New Jersey jury. His roof of his car caved in, failing to protect him, when a 73-pound runaway tire that had fallen off a pickup truck bounced onto the car roof.

When the roof above him pushed inward, Clanton’s head was struck, pushing it forward and causing him to fracture his neck. Per his auto defects complaint, the header panel of the roof—and, therefore, the header panel on the roofs of all Nisan Altima’s manufactured between 2002 and 2006—was flawed because it was incorrectly attached to the steel skeleton.

Clanton’s roof defect lawyer contended that her client’s injuries would not have occurred if only the header, which is the front of the roof, had been attached to the roof’s skeleton, as is the case with most vehicles. She also argued that Nissan failed to test the design of the roof structure after having changed it. Expert witnesses that she brought in to testify said that it is the job of a vehicle’s structural support to absorb energy when it is struck so that its occupants don’t get hurt.

Meantime, Clanton settled his personal injury case with the driver of the pickup truck for $500,000. The $4.2 million verdict will be reduced 15% to reflect the percentage of blame the jury attributed to that motorist.

Nissan says it is exploring its options post verdict. Its lawyers had blamed the speeds of the errant tire and Clanton’s vehicle for his injuries and contended that any roof would have collapsed under the circumstances. They maintain that the Altima’s roof wasn’t defective.

Roof Defects
The roof of a vehicle is supposed to provide adequate protection from impact in a collision or with an external foreign object. While usually, the term roof crush—used to refer to the roof of a passenger vehicle caving in during a rollover accident—is what one associates with roof defects, as in Clanton’s accident, a roof caving in on a passenger/driver at any time can prove catastrophic.

Common injuries associated with a motor vehicle roof caving in include:
• Broken bones
• Amputation
• Fractures
• Neck injuries
• Limb loss
• Traumatic brain injury
• Spinal cord injury
• Head injuries
• Paralysis

A roof caving in can apply pressure on the windows and doors, causing them to break open. When this happens, the space for occupants to reside safely can be severely reduced, causing additional serious injuries. Or, the impact of a motor vehicle crash may eject occupants from an auto, leaving them with no protections whatsoever.

Common Causes of Roof Defects:
• Design Defects
• Manufacturing errors
• Inadequate testing
• Improper structural support
• Sub-standard materials

You want to work with an experienced auto products liability law firm that can help you pursue your compensation. You also may have grounds for a car accident case against a driver who was involved.


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