For years, SUVs have gained in popularity because of their perceived notion of safety. Essentially, riding higher than other passenger cars made drivers feel safer. However, this belief does not always translate to actual safety. Because of this, automakers have dealt with problems surrounding potential rollover crashes, but a new problem has arisen.

According to the latest crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that a growing number of popular SUVs are receiving the Institute’s highest rating for crash safety. In past years, only two mid-size SUVs received such ratings (the GMC Terrain and the Chevy Equinox received “good” ratings, while the Toyota Highlander received an “acceptable” rating).

Now, because of upgrades in headlamps and technological advances, more vehicles are worthy of the IIHS’ “Top Safety Pick” designation. This means that these vehicles receive “good” ratings in four different tests, “good” or “acceptable” ratings in the overlap tests, and have some type of crash avoidance system that warns a driver of an imminent collision or can stop the vehicle automatically.

While the ratings largely have a commercial value to them, there are some legal implications that can come out of the tests. If IIHS tests identify a defect that can be corrected, it is incumbent on the manufacturer to do so. If an automaker fails to do so, and the defect is found to be the proximate cause of an accident, it can be held liable for failing to reasonably protect consumers who purchased the vehicle.

If you have questions about your legal rights and options after being injured in an SUV accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.