A Texas woman has been awarded $37.6 million by a jury following a crash in November 2015 that left her paralyzed.
Dallas News reports that 27-year-old Sarah Milburn was taking an Uber ride in a Honda Odyssey when the driver ran a red light and was hit by a pickup. She sued Honda in late 2016, with her attorneys arguing that it was the poorly designed seat belt system of the van that caused her injuries.
Milburn is now a quadriplegic with only minimal use of her arms and hands.
The seat belt system of the 2011 Honda Odyssey’s middle seat in the third row works like many other vehicles from the same era, incorporating a detachable shoulder strap that must be pulled down from the ceiling then anchored to the seat before it can be pulled over the passenger’s hips and buckled.
While this type of seatbelt is not uncommon, an expert demonstrated to the jury that fewer than 10 per cent of people unfamiliar with this type of seat belt were able to use it properly.
“Sarah put the seat belt on the same way 50 out of 53 people in our studies did, and wearing it that way was actually more dangerous than having no seat belt at all,” attorney Charla Aldous said.
After the verdict, Honda issued a statement revealing its plans to “vigorously appeal.”
“The design of the seat belt system for the middle passenger in the third-row seat in the 2011 Odyssey complies with all applicable federal safety standards and is similar in design to virtually all comparable minivans of this vintage.
“If it had been worn properly in this crash, the plaintiff would have suffered no serious injuries.”