Earlier this fall, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett flipped his 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S. The car rolled multiple times, but Garrett and his passenger–who were reportedly both wearing seatbelts–escaped serious injury. Garrett was far from the first celebrity to make the news after crashing a Porsche, and some weren’t as fortunate.
- In 2013, actor Paul Walker, best known for the Fast & Furious franchise, died in a 2005 Carrera GT. Walker’s friend Roger Rodas, a seasoned driver and Porsche enthusiast, was at the wheel.
- Also in 2013, singer Chris Brown rammed his Porsche 911 Turbo S into a wall in Hollywood, later saying the accident happened as he tried to evade photographers.
- Lindsay Lohan totaled a rented Porsche in 2012 when she slammed into the back of a large truck, then just months later struck a pedestrian while driving a friend’s Porsche SUV.
- In 2011, Jackass star Ryan Dunn and his passenger were killed when the 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 he was driving collided with a guard rail and crashed into the woods.
- Bobby Phills of the Charlotte Hornets died in a two-vehicle collision involving his Porsche 911 in 2000.
Examples reach far further back, as well, and include one of the most famous celebrity automobile crashes in history: the one that claimed the life of 24-year-old actor James Dean in 1955. Dean was driving a Porsche 550 Spyder at the time.
Why So Many High Profile Porsche Crashes?
Multiple variables may play a role in the relatively large number of celebrity Porsche crashes, including the fact that Porsches are expensive and high-prestige vehicles that are popular with the rich and famous. But, there are other variables, involving both the vehicles and their drivers.
Porsches are Built for Speed
Porsches are fast cars. Various 911 models boast top speeds between 179 mph and 198 mph. The Carrera GT is even faster, with a reported top speed of 205 mph. That means they attract drivers with a taste for speed.
Of course, the risk of collision is higher at high speeds: the driver has less time to react and avoid collision, and it’s easier to lose control of a car at high speeds. High-speed crashes are also likely to cause more damage, to both property and people.
The car Walker was riding in was traveling at about 90 mph on a curve when the driver lost control. Garrett was cited with driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone after his accident, and it was reported at the time that he’d been cited multiple times in the past for driving in excess of 100 mph. At least one incident involved speeds of up to 120 mph. And, the crash that killed Ryan Dunn and his passengers is believed to have occurred at 130 mph.
Porsches Handle Differently
You’ll hear Porsche-lovers rhapsodizing about the “unique and visceral” experience of driving a Porsche, but that unique handling also means that driving a Porsche can take getting used to. In 2013, The Wall Street Journal suggested that Porsches might just be too much car for some of the celebrities who kept crashing them. That’s not to say that the cars themselves are inherently unsafe, but that (like most machinery) they need to be handled appropriately to operate safely.
These and other variables impact how likely a Porsche is to crash. But, another important variable is how these cars hold up when they are involved in a crash.
Porsche Crash Ratings
One way we compare the safety of automobiles in the U.S. is crash ratings. There are two sets of widely used ratings: star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and ratings from Poor to Good by the Insurance Institution for Highway Safety (IIHS). But, not every vehicle sold in the United States is rated by one or both of these organizations.
According to Consumer Reports, no Porsche model is subjected to testing by either organization. The same is true for Jaguar and Land Rover. These three manufacturers accounted for about half of all unrated vehicles sold in the U.S. without crash test ratings–about 185,000 new vehicles in a single year.
Of course, the lack of crash test data doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicles are more dangerous in a crash. It simply means that auto buyers don’t have the same safety information about these vehicles as they do most of the vehicles sold in the U.S.
Who is Responsible for a Porsche Crash?
Fundamentally, a Porsche crash is no different from any other type of motor vehicle accident. One or more drivers may bear responsibility, if they were speeding or otherwise negligent. We’ve already seen that speed is a common factor in high-profile Porsche crashes. It’s also possible that the vehicle manufacturer or the manufacturer of a part may be liable.
The question of speed versus product defect was at issue after Paul Walker’s death. Both Walker’s daughter and the executor of his estate sued Porsche. The company maintained that the vehicle was up to applicable standards and the accident was attributable to “abuse, alteration and misuse” and said Walker was aware of and assumed the risks of the vehicle.
However, an attorney for Walker’s daughter said, “The bottom line is that the Porsche Carrera GT is a dangerous car. It doesn’t belong on the street.” The suits alleged that the car’s 605-horsepower engine and lack of safety features contributed to Walker’s death, and that faulty seatbelt design left him trapped in the vehicle for approximately 80 seconds after the crash, until the car burst into flames.
Ultimately, Porsche settled with both Walker’s estate and his daughter.
Talk to an Experienced Cleveland Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an Ohio car accident–whether in a Porsche or any other type of vehicle–it’s important that you fully explore the possible responsible parties. The best source of information and guidance about who may be liable and how to pursue fair compensation is an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.
The lawyers at Plevin & Gallucci have been representing victims of car and truck accidents for decades, and have the knowledge and experience to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. To learn more, call 855-4PLEVIN or fill out the contact form on this page.