Jury awards accident victim $55 million over defective seat belt

By Jim Boyle | Jul 29, 2014

A jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of an Erie, Pa., man who

was paralyzed from a car accident when his Honda SUV rolled over, allowing his head to hit the roof.

After nine days of testimony, the jury awarded Carlos Martinez $55 million in damages., The sum includes $25 million for past and future damages, $14.6 million for medical expenses and $15 million awarded to Martinez's wife for loss of consortium.

According to court documents, Martinez was driving to work in 2010 when one of the tires of his Honda Integra popped. The vehicle rolled over, and Martinez's head hit the roof and has been rendered disabled. He is permanently paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.

Marintez's attorneys found evidence during discovery which showed Honda determined a seat-belted driver would strike his or her head on the Integra's roof but performed no further testing to attempt to protect drivers.

Honda has filed a motion to delay damages and intends to appeal the verdict. The judgment is the largest recorded in Pennsylvania history for an auto defect case, according to Martinez's attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

"Honda's failure to alert the public to this hazard caused Carlos Martinez to suffer debilitating and painful injuries," said firm senior partner and co-founder Stewart J. Eisenberg in a statement. "This incident could and should have been avoided by a safer design that already existed. Through this verdict, we are hoping to prevent such unnecessary and devastating injuries from happening to others."

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