A case was settled by the Ford Motor Co. at a state court in Cobb County, Georgia. The case involved a girl who was paralyzed after a crash in 2006 which she was only wearing a lap-only rear seat belt. At the time of the crash, the injured girl, Karina Lozano was only six. The amount of the settlement is confidential.
The case was supposed to be a three week trial starting in April. The plaintiffs were planning on using information from other crashes with similar injuries with lap-only seat belts. One of the similar crashes would be the one 1986 report by the National Traffic Safety Administration about the dangers of lap only belts. They also have evidence that Ford new about the dangers, but continued "two-point" belts because they cost less than "three-point" lap and shoulder belts which are a lot safer.
Karina, who is now nine, is a quadriplegic. She has a motorized wheel-chair that she uses which she will continue to use for the rest of her life. She has enough usage of her hands that she is able to use the controls on the chair to maneuver her around. She can also pick up a pencil, but does not have the strength to hold books.
A common type of injury from crashes such as this one is fracture of the lower spine, which can cause paralysis from the waist down as the person’s upper body is thrown forward. Karina’s spine, however, was severed much higher because she was thrown forward into the back of the front seat, injuring her head and neck which paralyzed more of her body.
For the negligent and defective design of the lap belt restraint system and the negligent failure to warn Karina wouldn’t have had any life altering injuries as a result of her crash. Her father which was in the crash also, was wearing a shoulder and lap belt and only had a broken leg and fully recovered.
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