A jury awarded a Virginia man $14 million after finding that his serious brain injuries were due to a defect in the design of his Hyundai’s airbag system.
The accident occurred in 2010 when the plaintiff was 16 years old. He was driving his Hyundai Tiburon when he slid off the road and collided with a tree on his driver’s side. During the accident, he hit his head on the roof of the vehicle. His rehabilitation included having to relearn how to walk and talk. He continues to have side effects from the brain injury.
His claim against Hyundai was based on the failure of the side airbags to deploy. He argued the sensors for the airbag were in the wrong location preventing them from properly sensing the impact and deploying appropriately. Evidence showed the side airbag sensor was located under the driver’s seat instead of further out on the vehicle. After deliberations, the jury agreed that there was a defect in the way the airbag system was designed.
Airbag deployment issues have plagued the auto industry recently. Hyundai recently recalled its Azera sedan for airbag sensor/deployment concerns. Honda is currently being investigated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a deployment flaw in its Honda Odyssey, and General Motors is currently in litigation over its Cadillac airbag system failing to deploy.
Hyundai plans to appeal the Virginia decision and claims that the airbag design met federal standards.