Our firm recently reached a settlement with Ford Motor Company involving the rollover of a Ford F450 Super Duty truck in Clarke County, Alabama. We represented the family of a young man who was riding as a front seat passenger in the truck while on his way to work in the timber business. Due to foggy conditions that morning, the driver of the truck allowed one of the tires of the vehicle to drop off the shoulder of the roadway. When he brought the truck back on the roadway it overturned two times. Although the truck was only travelling 40 miles per hour at the time it rolled over, there was substantial intrusion of the roof structure into the occupant compartment of the truck. The roof structure caved in on our clients’ son causing him to suffer a burst fracture of his cervical spine. Unfortunately, the young man was paralyzed and died about ten days following the accident.
The Ford Super Duty truck series consists of the F250, F350, and F450 trucks. We actually cut the roof off of one of these trucks and found that the roof is not so “super.” Most of the support structures of the roof on the Super Duty consist of open sections made of low-strength steel. We also cut the roof off of a Ford F150 truck to compare the two roof structures. Surprisingly, we found that the F150 roof structures included closed, box sections. Some of these were made of high-strength steel. The only explanation we could find for the differences in these two vehicles (which to the naked eye appear identical) is that the F150 has to meet the NHTSA federal safety standard for roof crush whereas the F250/F350/F450 trucks don’t have to meet the standard. This is primarily due to the weight difference in the trucks. But, there is nothing preventing Ford or any other manufacturer from voluntarily subjecting these trucks to the federal standard. Good safety practices certainly require it.
This was a highly-contested case and a lot of work and preparation were put into it on behalf of our clients. J.P. Sawyer from our firm, along with Gaines McCorquodale, a very good lawyer, from Jackson, Alabama, handled the case. They did a very good job and got a good result for the family. The amount of the settlement is confidential.
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