FACTS & ALLEGATIONS:
On Christmas Day 2002, Veronica Doe, 19, was riding in the right front seat of a 1994 Ford Aspire, which went into a ditch in Harris County. The passenger airbag deployed in the low-speed frontal impact, and Doe was injured. Doe sued Ford Motor Co., alleging that there were several clear defects in the car’s airbag system. First, she claimed, the airbag system likely was designed with a deployment threshold that was too low, especially for belted occupants such as Doe.
The low threshold allowed unwarranted deployments and unnecessarily increased the risk of injuries, she alleged. Second, the failure to utilize a tether inside the passenger airbag, given its size, caused significant contact to Doe’s face prior to its full inflation, she alleged.
A reasonable alternative would have been to add tethers to limit the rearward reach of the bag and control its trajectory, she argued. Tethers were included in other makes and models of Ford airbag in the 1994 time period. Third, the passenger airbag system was defective in that it was unreasonably aggressive, Doe alleged. She suggested lower output single stage inflators and dual-stage inflators to reduce aggression in low-impact collision.
Doe suffered injuries to her face and an open globeinjury to her right eye, with a concurrent lateral orbital wall fracture. In the emergency room, her open globe injury was repaired to the extent possible by an ophthalmology service, and doctors chose to observe the fracture. They were unable atthat time to address her eye injuries of traumatic cataract and probable retinal tear. Subsequently, she underwent surgicalremoval of the eye.
RESULT: The parties settled for a confidential amount.
Rob Ammons is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, in addition to being Board Certified in Civil Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Rob Ammons’ law practice, The Ammons Law Firm, is located in Houston, Texas. The Ammons Law Firm practice is exclusively personal injury law, handling such cases as: tire defects, oil rig explosions, truck accidents, plant explosions, refinery accidents, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, airbag defects, SUV rollovers and workplace negligence.