Paralyzed Woman Wins $18 Million from Ford


A US District Court jury in Denver awarded a 20-year-old woman $18 million in damages after she was paralyzed in a rollover accident in 2006. The woman and her parents sued Ford because her seatbelt came unlatched during the accident. The jury found Ford 25 percent liable and will have to pay $4.23 million.

The woman was on her way to high school in her friend’s 1999 Mercury Cougar Coupe, which is manufactured by Ford. At some point, the vehicle left the road and rolled four-and-a-half times. When the woman’s seatbelt came unlatched, she was ejected from the car. Neither of the then-teenagers was using drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

The woman and her parents have settled their case against the driver and TRW Automotive Safety Systems Inc., the company that manufactured the seatbelt. Ford plans on appealing the judgment, claiming their expert witness shows the victim was never wearing her seatbelt. The woman’s attorney claims paint found on the seatbelt from outside the car proves otherwise.

For her part, the young woman paralyzed in the auto accident says she would like to see the standards of the company change to protect customers. “It’s pretty sad because they knew about the default in the belt, and they did not do anything about it.”

Since the accident, medical care has totaled $900,000. The woman must also use a wheelchair with hand controls, and has gone through months of physical therapy and doctors appointments.