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Jury Award in Seat Belt Liability Case Reinstated by TN High Court

The unfortunate reality is that if you pick up a newspaper or access a local news site on a Monday morning, there is a very good chance that you will read a story outlining how a drunk driving accident over the weekend claimed the lives of innocent motorists or caused them life-altering personal injuries.

While every single one of these accident stories are utterly tragic, there is one drunk driving accident story that many people here in Tennessee can still remember over ten years after the fact.

The accident in question occurred back on January 18, 2002, when a drunk driver crossed the centerline and struck a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis driven by the grandfather of a six-year-old boy who was then sitting in the back seat. Tragically, the sheer force of the car accident caused the boy to suffer permanent paralysis.

In the aftermath of the collision, the boy’s family filed a lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company, alleging that the automaker bore partial responsibility for the boy’s injuries due to the defective design of its seatbelt and its failure to warn people of this significant danger.

Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that the boy suffered a serious spinal injury because “the force of the impact caused him to jackknife over his lap seat belt and pushed the seat belt into his stomach and against his spine.”

The jury in the case ultimately awarded the family $6.57 million after determining that Ford was 15 percent responsible for the car crash injuries.

Ford responded by filing an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Appeals in which they claimed that the verdict was excessive. Here, the court ultimately sided with Ford and reduced the award to $1.93 million.

The boy’s family subsequently filed an appeal with the Tennessee Supreme Court, which just last month overturned the appellate court and reinstated the original award of $6.57 million.

With this money, the boy and his family can now focus on building a better future.

Remember, if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated attorney.

Source: Automotive News, “Tenn. Supreme Court reinstates ruling against Ford in liability case,” Sean Gagnier, September 5, 2013