Now, a jury in Texas has awarded his family $124 million, assigning 55 percent of the blame to the car manufacturer. Another 25 percent of the blame was assigned to the driver who rear-ended the car he was in. His father was assigned 20 percent liability, because neither he nor his son, who was seated directly behind him, were wearing a seat belt.
This tragic case highlights not only the estimated 100 serious injuries – mostly to children – that resulted from this specific defect since 1989, but also the fact that defective vehicles resulted in a record 900 recalls last year. In total, 51 million vehicles were taken off the market for a myriad of dangerous aspects, from defective airbags to dysfunctional brakes.
This high number was fueled in part by the fact the government had levied huge fines against a handful of companies for failure to take fast enough action on serious safety concerns. This prompted a flood of recall action by companies hoping to avoid similar fines.
In the Texas case, Rivera v. Cordova, Audi AG et al., it was alleged the German car company knew its seats had the potential to dangerously collapse in the event of a rear-end crash, but allowed them into production anyway.
According to the complaint, the auto manufacturer deemed this defect acceptable because, engineers reportedly reasoned, the knees of the rear seat passenger would be sufficient to help absorb the force of the seat falling back. But there was no evidence presented tending to show the auto maker conducted a knee-bolster test to make sure that someone’s knees really could safely absorb such impact. And further, there was no indication they had considered whether a child’s knees in particularly could safely support a seat falling back.
Finally, no other car manufacturers used this kind of standard in determining whether a seat was safe for use.
According to court records, the young boy was sitting in the backseat with his younger brother. Neither were wearing a seat belt and neither was their father, who was driving. The father was stopped behind a school bus.
A driver behind them failed to stop and ended up striking the vehicle from behind. The father’s seat collapsed backward and the father slid into the back seat, his head striking his son’s head, causing severe injury. The boy nearly died, and know lives with a traumatic brain injury, partial paralysis, blindness in one eye.
His younger brother, however, escaped the car accident relatively unscathed, leading jurors to believe he would have also, had it not been for the collapsing seat.
His mother told the court that he can no longer tell her the simple words, “I love you.”
The auto manufacturer denied the seats were defective, and a spokesman pointed to the fact that neither the boy nor his father were wearing a seat belt. It’s not clear yet whether the defendant will appeal.
The verdict does not include any punitive damages.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
S.A. Family Wins $124M Lawsuit Against Audi, Still Fighting for Change, March 10, 2016, By Sharon Ko, KENS5
More Blog Entries:
Florida Supreme Court: Insurers Can’t Unreasonably Delay, March 14, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog