Paralyzed Victim Awarded $55.3M Jury Verdict in Acura Car Crash

As he drove his 1999 Acura Integra along a Maryland road in May 2010, a tire on Carlos Martinez’s car blew out after striking a nail, causing the car to veer off the road, go into a ditch and roll over multiple times.

The crash, which occurred at about 33 mph, caused catastrophic injuries to Martinez when his head struck the roof on the inside of the car as it rolled, leaving him a paraplegic, according to a July 8 story in The Legal Intelligencer.  After hearing testimony in the product liability case, a Philadelphia jury has rendered a verdict in Martinez’s favor, awarding him $55.3 million in damages from the car maker in connection with the case, the paper reported.

The jury found that the victim’s injuries were “caused by the Integra’s defective seat-belt design and that defendant American Honda Motor Co. was negligent for failing both to redesign the seat belt and to warn consumers that they were at risk of hitting their heads on the roof if the vehicle rolled,” the story reported, based on the jury’s decision. Acura is a division of American Honda Motor Co.

The defendant “blamed Martinez’s own negligence in its own pretrial memorandum,” but the jury rejected that view, according to the story.

Several experts testified for the plaintiff that the car’s restraint system and its body design contributed to the severity of the victim’s injuries in the crash. “The only reason Mr. Martinez sustained catastrophic and paralyzing injuries was because the defective design of the subject vehicle failed to keep him, a seat-belted occupant, from loading his neck during the rollover event, resulting in serious damage to his spine,” the plaintiffs’ memorandum said, according to the paper.

The victim’s legal team argued during the trial “that the seat belt should have been attached to the seat, rather than one of the ‘pillars’ separating the vehicle’s windows,” the story reported. The plaintiffs also argued “that Honda had performed rollover tests for the 1999 Integra in which the crash-test dummy repeatedly hit its head on the roof, but never corrected the problem before bringing the vehicle to market,” according to the story.

Since the crash, Martinez has had multiple urinary tract infections and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and he continues to suffer from chronic weakness, numbness, pain, spasticity, neurogenic bowel and neurogenic bladder as a result of his paralysis, the story reported.

The jury reached its verdict quickly after a nine-day trial, awarding $25 million to Martinez for past and future noneconomic damages, $15 million to his wife for loss of consortium, $14.6 million for future medical expenses and about $720,000 for past and future lost earnings, the story reported.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.