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Verdict: Airbag defective, Hyundai liability $14 million

A civil trial jury for the 17th Judicial Circuit of Virginia (Pulaski County) has found Hyundai Motor America liable for $14 million, the projected cost of lifetime care for a plaintiff who suffered a brain injury when the side airbag of his Hyundai vehicle failed to open to protect him in a crash. The plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defective design of the airbag was the proximate cause of his injury, which but for the defect would not have happened to him.

The plaintiff's theory of the case was the placement of the side airbag sensor under the driver's seat prevented proper activation of the airbag device to protect his head from slamming violently into the roof of his car when it crashed into a tree. The defendant's theory of the case was that Hyundai had tested the device thoroughly, there was no negligence in its design or placement, and the device would not have prevented the plaintiff's injury had it functioned properly in the event. Hyundai counsel say they intend to appeal the judgment, saying that the side airbag would not have saved the victim from the impact.

Trial testimony showed that after the crash the plaintiff managed to learn again how to talk and walk but still suffers from a severely limited vocabulary, an extensive memory deficit, and impaired judgment. He remains emotionally unstable, prone to violent outbursts of frustration, and in need of full-time care and supervision.

Traumatic brain injuries can have a great impact on a victim's life. In a case like this, where a manufacturer's defect contributed to the cause of the injury, an injured person and their family can seek compensation from the manufacturer with the help of a lawyer who specializes in personal injury.

Source: Roanoke Times, "Jury awards Radford family $14 million in case against Hyundai ," Melissa Powell, June 28, 2013

Source: Automotive News, "Hyundai hit with $14 million verdict in Virginia airbag trial", July 01, 2013

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