Pennsylvania Jury Verdict of $10.2 Million for Paralyzed Teenager

The Insurance Journal reports that a Pennsylvania jury awarded $10.2 million to a teenager who paralyzed in a drunken-driving crash while wearing a lap belt in the backseat of a Volkswagen.
The verdict assigned 51 percent of the liability to the drunk driver, 39 percent to Volkswagen, and 10 percent to the utility company who owned the pole utility to the pole that the driver hit.

There is no way to be sure, but I suspect this case was all about Volkswagen. The drunk driver I’m sure already tendered their policy of insurance, whatever that was. The utility company also settled before trial. But Volkswagen owes Plaintiff over $3.9 million. This sounds like a lot but she has already incurred about $5 million in medical bills.

Plaintiff injury’s, in this case, is called submarining. This is where the accident victim, usually a child or smaller adult, slips underneath the lap belt during a car accident, causing the belt to ride up on the abdomen leading to internal injuries. Typically, this person is sitting in the middle of the backseat. Because the middle seat is infrequently used, it has largely been ignored by car manufacturers regarding passenger safety in car accidents. Finally, the federal government stepped in and mandated that new cars sold after September 1, 2007, in the United States must have a combination lap and shoulder belt in all back seat positions, including the middle seat.

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