Colorado man awarded $2.9 million in injury lawsuit over defective Ford Explorer seats

by Jim Orr

When Forrest Walker’s Ford Explorer was rear-ended at a Boulder, Colorado intersection, the lever-activated recliner in his seat disengaged, causing the seat to drop into a fully reclined position. Walker was thrown head-first into the backseat of the vehicle and suffered severe upper neck injuries as well as head trauma.

Walker sued Ford Motor Company, alleging the Explorer’s seat was defective. According to the lawsuit, the seat failed even though the collision was not violent enough to, for example, break the back windows of the SUV. Walker alleged he still experiences visual problems and some cognitive and speaking deficiencies as a result of the crash, and was forced to give up his job as a physical therapist.

The case went to trial, and a jury has now found that a defective seat in the 1998 Ford Explorer caused Walker’s injuries. The jury has awarded Walker, the former owner of a physical therapy facility, $2.9 million for economic losses, non-economic losses and permanent physical impairment.

Car and truck manufacturers have a duty to build a car that is as safe as is reasonably possible under the present state of mechanical technology, vehicle design, and safety. Manufacturers are obligated to design vehicles so that they are safe for any reasonably foreseeable use. Obviously, it is reasonably foreseeable that any car or truck will be involved in a collision. Thus, a car manufacturer’s duty includes designing a vehicle that is reasonably safe when a collision occurs.

The ability of a vehicle to protect the occupants of a vehicle in a crash is called “crashworthiness.” The concept of “crashworthiness” refers broadly to numerous features— for example: seat belts, crumple zones and airbags—which are designed to minimize occupant injuries, prevent ejection from the vehicle, and reduce the risk of fire.

A crashworthiness case could involve aspects of the vehicle such as:

  • Air Bags
  • Child Seats
  • Auto Glass
  • Doors
  • Fires
  • Roof (“roof crush”)
  • Seat Belts
  • Rollovers
  • Tires

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident, it may well be that the injuries were caused or made worse because the vehicle was not sufficiently crashworthy. In order to determine whether you may have a case, you need to retain experienced, qualified legal counsel at the earliest opportunity.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the experience and knowledge to pursue a crashworthiness claim against any of the major auto manufacturers. Contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free contact form located on this page.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.