Driving Safer Vehicle Design
Properly designed, installed air bags have saved countless lives. But what happens when a car company puts profits ahead of safety?
When the side impact airbags in a 2001 GM Suburban failed, our client suffered severe head injuries, despite the fact that she was wearing a seat belt. The mother of three young girls was permanently disabled and will require care for the rest of her life.
While researching her case, our attorneys discovered documents from the manufacturer that proved they knew the airbag only deployed under staged testing conditions. In real-world conditions, a defective sensor–one that would have cost a mere $10 to replace–kept the airbag from functioning properly. GM chose to go ahead and install the airbag as a marketing ploy, enabling them to offer an SUV with side airbags to compete with models from other car companies.
Had the airbag in our client’s vehicle deployed as advertised, it would have protected her head from being slammed into the side of her SUV so hard that she was put into a coma and suffered severe brain damage.
The case was tried to a jury verdict of $38 million. General Motors appealed the verdict all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, but eventually lost all appeals.
When companies neglect the human costs of putting profits ahead of safety, we’ll be sure they pay the price.