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Georgia Jury Awards $1.7 Billion in Fatal Roof Crush Accident

Siblings Who Lost Their Parents in 2014 Accident Awarded $1.7 Billion

A verdict was reached against Ford Motor Company in Georgia in which a jury awarded $1.7 billion in punitive damages to two siblings whose parents died in a rollover crash that resulted in roof crush in April 2014. The accident happened when their parents were on their way to pick up a tractor part for their farm in a 2002 Ford F-250 and experienced a rollover due to a tire blowout. The rollover crushed the roof of their vehicle, which led to their deaths.

Ford and Pep Boys Held Liable in Double-Fatality Accident

The day before the jury issued their verdict for punitive damages, the siblings were awarded compensatory damages of $24 million. Thirty percent of the fault in the fatal collision was determined to be due to Pep Boys installing the wrong size tires on the pickup in 2010, which led to the blowout. According to the news release, the crash still should have been survivable, and the roof crush led to the couple’s deaths. The plaintiff’s lawyers presented evidence that Ford F-250 pickups made between 2000 and 2017 all posed a risk of a crushed roof in a rollover accident. 

Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Point Out Many of These Vehicles Still in Use

The company allegedly produced 5.2 million pickups with the same design flaw potential for a roof caving in. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also pointed out that the F-150 has a roof design that is similar, and that particular model has been the best-selling vehicle in the country for the past 40 years. Almost 80 similar rollovers involving roof crush injuries or deaths were also submitted as evidence. 

Ford Appealing Court Decision

The automaker intends to appeal the decision. Under Georgia law, the siblings would receive one-quarter of the amount awarded in punitive damages. The state would receive the remaining three-quarters of the award. 

Roof Crush in Car Accidents

In the event of a rollover accident, the roof can be crushed in some vehicles. If the roof construction and supports on a car are too weak, they can buckle if a rollover occurs. When the roof caves in, it collapses the body of the vehicle on top of the occupants inside. Although automobile manufacturers must design their vehicles to support 3.5 times the car’s weight in a rollover, some of them don’t comply. There are added consequences that can result from roof crush because it reduces the survivability space of those inside the vehicle, such as spinal cord trauma and traumatic head injuries. Fatalities are common.

Rollovers and the Preservation of the Vehicle

Preserving a vehicle after a rollover is important, so it can be examined by engineers to determine if a caved-in roof contributed to the injuries and/or fatalities. If this is found, an auto product liability claim may be placed against the designer, manufacturer and others with the help of an accident attorney.

Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento truck accident lawyer. Truck accidents are serious enough without defects increasing your risk of traumatic injuries or death. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident due to someone’s negligence, call us at (916) 921-6400 or at (800) 404-5400. You can contact us online as well. We also offer an online contact form if you prefer to get in touch with us that way.

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Photo attribution: Image by Sabine from Pixabay 

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