$9.9 Million Verdict Against Mazda in Fiery, Deadly Car Crash
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on November 7th, 2014
Mazda Motor Corp. has been ordered by an Alabama jury to pay a total of $9.9 million to a young woman who survived a fiery November 2010 car crash and to the family of her 15-year-old passenger who was killed after being trapped in the burning wreckage.
Following a three-week trial, the jury awarded $6 million to Sydney McLemore, who survived the crash but suffered serious burns over 15 percent of her body, and $3.9 million to the parents of Natalie Hurst, who died due to the resulting fire, according to an Oct. 20 report in The Birmingham News. The crash occurred on the Ross Bridge Parkway in Birmingham, Ala., when the 2008 Mazda 3 automobile that McLemore was driving struck a power pole at 3:24 a.m. McLemore was 16 years old at the time of the crash, according to newspaper reports.
The lawsuit alleged the vehicle was defectively designed with the fuel tank placed next to a hard metal muffler with a sharp edge and no protective shielding, which caused the fuel tank to rupture when it was struck by the muffler during the crash, the story reported. The impact allowed fuel to be ignited by the hot muffler and exhaust system. The complaint alleged Mazda should have been aware the design would lead to the likelihood of such a fire and that it “posed an unreasonable risk to vehicle occupants,” the story continued.
Mazda denied the allegations and said that its vehicle “met and exceeded all government standards” for safety, the story reported. “This accident represents the only claim, lawsuit or consumer complaint that has been made regarding a 2004 – 2009 Mazda3 alleging that a post-collision fuel fed fire resulted from any defect with that vehicle. Mazda is currently considering all possible grounds for appeal,” the company said in a statement to the newspaper.
The lawsuit was tried under the state’s product liability law, called the Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine, The Birmingham News reported. The plaintiffs argued that the car was built to specifications, but that the design was defective, the paper reported.
“Originally Mazda claimed that there had never been a post collision fire involving a Mazda 3, but attorneys were able to show through government databases that there were nine post collision fuel fire fatalities,” an attorney in the case told the paper.
These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness 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.