In 2011, Carlos Martinez filed a personal injury lawsuit against Honda. On May 8. 2010, Mr. Martinez drove his 1999 Acura to work. His right tire blew out as he merged onto a highway near Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Martinez lost control of his vehicle. He overcorrected and the vehicle rolled over twice. Mr. Martinez suffered serious injuries including fractures to his C6-7 vertebrae that resulted in quadriplegia.
Mr. Martinez filed a personal injury lawsuit against Honda, Takata Corporation, and Bowser Automotive, Inc. Takata manufactured the seatbelts used in the 1999 Acura. Both Takata and Bowser were dismissed from the case before it got underway.
Highest Personal Injury Lawsuit Verdict
In June 2014, Mr. Martinez was awarded $55 million in his personal injury lawsuit against Honda by a Philadelphia jury. It was recorded as the highest personal injury lawsuit verdict given in Pennsylvania to a person injured by a defective vehicle.
While $55 million may seem like a great amount, it’s important that we understand the severity of Mr. Martinez’s injuries. In addition to being a quadriplegic, he also has spasms, neuropathic pain in his legs, problems with his bladder, and must have help with self-care. He also spent an extensive amount of time in the hospital. Mr. Martinez will also require specialized medical care for the rest of his life.
In addition to the expense of Mr. Martinez’s medical and special needs as a result of the accident, there was also lost wages and loss of earning capacity. He relies on his daughter for assistance in many areas. His wife also testified at the trial about the changes that they experienced in their relationship since the accident.
The jury found that the 1999 Acura was defective in its design and that Mr. Martinez was injured because of the roof’s defective design. Honda appealed the verdict and cited a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision regarding recent tort law caps in damages. However, their argument was rejected and the verdict was affirmed.
Will We See a Class Action Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Because the 1999 Acura was determined to be of defective design and with Takata’s recent lawsuits related to defective seatbelts, it’s possible that we may see a class action personal injury lawsuit against other car manufacturers in the future. However, it is important for potential plaintiffs to understand that there are some differences between the two. With a personal injury lawsuit, you may have one or more defendants as Mr. Martinez had. Yet, the case only deals with your facts and your injuries. When there is a verdict, it is only for you. In a class action lawsuit, it takes a group of people who would be classified as plaintiffs and lumps them together. If the court finds that the defendant(s) were responsible for the injuries and issues a monetary verdict, that money is split between all of the plaintiffs.
If class action lawsuits arise related to defective design of vehicles or their components, it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney to determine whether it would be better for you to join a class action lawsuit or if you should choose to file a single personal injury lawsuit.
Questions about Personal Injury or Class Action Lawsuits?
If you’ve been hurt as a result of a defective item and have questions about what you should expect or whether you should file a lawsuit, contact Goldwater Law Firm. We’d be happy to answer your questions and to provide you with a free case evaluation.