Seat belts are designed to protect the safety of drivers and passengers. When safety devices like these fail, the results can be fatal.
Seat belt laws have been passed throughout Oklahoma and the United States, requiring passengers to wear safety belts (seat belts) while operating or riding in a motor vehicle. Because of this, it is the seat belt manufacturers’ responsibility to thoroughly test seat belts in crashworthiness testing, in order to offer the highest level of occupant safety in the event of a motor vehicle accident. From time to time, defective seat belts fail to restrain the vehicle occupant in a car wreck, often causing personal injury and, in some cases, resulting in wrongful death. When this type of unfortunate circumstance occurs, the manufacturer may be held liable. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a seat belt failure, contact our lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center to discuss your legal options.
Seatbelt Failure Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit
Ford to Pay $6.5 Million In Seat-Belt Failure Suit
April 10, 2002
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that Ford Motor Co. must pay more than $6.5 million to the family of a young man who suffered permanent brain damage because of an allegedly defective seat belt in his Ford Ranger pickup truck.
Ricky Johnson, then 19, was injured in June 1997 when his truck ran off the road and plowed into a creek bottom near Tecumseh, OK. Johnson’s parents charged that his injuries were caused by the failure of his seat belt.
The suit alleges that a sharp edge on the seat belt latch plate cut into the seat belt, causing it fail and permitted Johnson’s head to slam into the vehicle during the crash. Ford charged that Johnson’s injury were caused by the violent movement of the vehicle during the crash, not by the seat belt failure.
“This is an unfortunate ruling, not based on facts,” Ford said in a prepared statement. “The driver fell asleep at the wheel, left the road and eventually became airborne for more than 70 feet. There is no evidence that he hit his head at any time during the accident.”
The suit charged that Ford built and sold an “unreasonably dangerous vehicle” and the Oklahoma high court agreed.
In its ruling, the Oklahoma court upheld an earlier jury verdict that awarded Johnson $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. With interest added to the original award, Ford must now pay Johnson and his family more than $6.5 million, one of his attorneys said.
Ford’s damages may well exceed the $6.5 million. The company has been struggling to recover from falling vehicle sales brought on, at least in part, by a rash of safety-related problems in recent years.
If you or a loved one have been injured because of a defective seat belt, contact our Oklahoma City-based law firm to review your seat belt injury claim. We are experienced personal injury lawyers, and we are standing by ready to help you. Please call us toll fee or fill out our contact form for legal representation.