Second-Collision Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Second collision doctrine is a principle of tort law that makes a manufacturer liable in negligence or strict liability for injuries sustained in an accident where a manufacturing or design defect, though not the cause of the accident, caused or enhanced the injuries. The plaintiff must show that his/her injuries were enhanced by the design defect. The doctrine was first recognized in Larsen v. General Motors Corp., 391 F.2d 495, 501-503 (8th Cir. 1968), and is based upon the premise that some products, while they are not made for the purpose of undergoing impact, should be reasonably designed to minimize the injury-producing effect of impact.

The Colorado Supreme Court has held that the doctrine applied to motorcycles as well as automobiles. The court reasoned that there was no "principled basis to conclude that liability for failure to provide reasonable, cost-acceptable safety features to reduce the severity of injuries suffered in inevitable accidents should be imposed upon automobile manufacturers but not upon motorcycle manufacturers" and noted that "motorcycle accidents are just as foreseeable as automobile accidents and that motorcycle riders face a much greater risk of injury in the event of an accident than do occupants of automobiles.[Tafoya v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 884 F.2d 1330, 1337 (10th Cir. Colo. 1989)]

Second collision doctrine is also known as crashworthiness doctrine or second impact doctrine.