Ford Motor Co. has settled a lawsuit in a state court in Cobb County, Georgia. This case involved a girl who was paralyzed after a 2006 crash in which she was wearing a lap-only rear seat belt. The amount of the settlement is confidential. The injured child, Karina Lozano of Gainesville, Georgia, was six years old at the time of the crash.
The case was scheduled for a three-week trial starting on April 5th. The Plaintiffs were planning to present evidence of similar injuries with lap-only seat belts, including a 1986 report by the National Traffic Safety Administration about the dangers of lap belts. They also had as evidence internal Ford e-mails showing that Ford knew about the dangers but continued using “two-point” belts because they cost less than “three-point” lap and shoulder belts.
Karina, who is now nine years old, is a quadriplegic. She uses a motorized wheelchair and will do so for the rest of her life, Moran said. She has enough use of her hands to operate the electronic controls on the chair and pick up a pencil, but not enough strength to hold a book. A common type of injury from lap belts is fracture of the lower spine, which can cause paralysis from the waist down as the person’s upper body is thrown forward. But Karina’s spine was severed much higher because she was thrown forward into the back of the front seat, injuring her head and neck and paralyzing more of her body.
But for the negligent and defective design of the lap belt restraint system and the negligent failure to warn, Karina Lozano would have suffered no life-altering injuries as a result of this front end collision. Her father, Miguel Lozano, who was driving and wearing a lap and shoulder seat belt, suffered relatively minor injuries, including a broken leg, and he fully recovered.
E. Michael Moran and Peter A. Law of Law & Moran in Atlanta, and Peter J. Daughtery and Jason L. Crawford of Columbus, Georgia-based Daughtery, Crawford, Fuller & Brown represented the Plaintiff and did a very good job.
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