Crash Victim Wins $37.6 Million in Honda Seat Belt Lawsuit

According to NBC News, a Texas jury awarded a woman paralyzed in a 2015 car crash of $37.6 million after she sued the automaker, Honda.

Sarah Milburn, 27, was gravely injured when her Uber driver ran a red light. The Honda Odyssey she was in was “t-boned” by a pickup truck, causing the Odyssey to roll over. Milburn suffered a broken neck during the accident, leaving her a quadriplegic. Milburn’s attorney, Jim Mitchell, argued the seat belts in the Odyssey were negligently designed, contributing to her injuries.

Safety Belt Difficult to Use for Most

The safety belts in questions had a two-part system that Mitchell contended were unfamiliar, therefore difficult to use for many. The safety belt in the third row of the Odyssey required the user to grasp the detachable shoulder strap from the ceiling, anchor the strap to the seat, then pull the seat belt across the hips to buckle. Mitchell provided an expert during the trial who found that as many as 90 percent of users who were unfamiliar with the two-part safety belt system was unable to use it correctly.

Honda Seatbelt Presented Higher Likelihood of Injury When Used Incorrectly Than When Not Used at All

Milburn’s attorneys claimed that when the seat belt was not used correctly, it presented more danger to the user than if no seat belt were used at all. Despite the fact that the seat belts in the Odyssey properly met federal regulations, the jury concluded those regulations were not sufficient to protect consumers. Honda argued that the seat belts were safe and that if Milburn had worn the seat belt correctly, she would not have sustained such serious injuries.

Honda To Appeal Decision

Honda plans to appeal the decision, claiming the safety belts are comparable in design to all other minivans of the same vintage. Milburn’s family is working toward the creation of “Sarah’s Law,” which would forbid automakers from using this style of a safety belt. The Uber driver ran a red light before being struck by the pickup, and both he, the owner of the van, and Uber were named in the original lawsuit. It appears that the actual owner of the Odyssey van (who was not the driver) was uninsured. Therefore, Sarah’s lawyers claimed Uber should have been stricter regarding who drives a vehicle under the Uber name.

Milburn Likely to Need a Lifetime of Care

The final settlement only named Honda, and it is unclear whether Uber was dropped from the claim or found not responsible. Not only was Milburn’s spinal column broken, she subsequently developed pneumonia; Sarah moved into a rehabilitation hospital, then into her parent’s home, where they are currently committing all their financial resources to her care. Consumer Protect found that while seatbelts have saved many lives since the installation was mandated in 1968, they have also cost lives. American auto manufacturers have issued more than 1,000 seatbelt recalls since 1996, with Ford recalling 108,000 cars just this year due to faulty seatbelts.

What Constitutes a Faulty Seatbelt?

A faulty seatbelt could be due to a flaw or defect in the design of the seatbelt, subpar manufacturing materials used to construct the seatbelts, or a failure on the part of the manufacturer to properly test the safety of the seatbelt. Some of the most common causes of seatbelt injuries include excessive slack in the belt, “skip lock,” which occurs when the seatbelt fails to lock during an accident, or locks too late, a defective buckle, which releases during a collision, or older cars which lack a shoulder harness.

Getting Necessary Help for Your Client Following Seatbelt-Related Injuries

Seatbelt-related lawsuits are becoming more and more common, as defective seatbelts are responsible for serious injuries. Those injured as a direct result of a faulty seatbelt are likely to need financial assistance to help them get back on their feet and receive the treatment they need. Your client’s ability to get treatment for their injuries and assistance with their seatbelt-related injury expenses can, unfortunately, be limited; however, help can come from USClaims. At USClaims, pre-settlement funding can help your clients pay those unexpected injury expenses (including medical costs and lost wages) in anticipation of a court judgment or settlement. Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information you and your clients need and deserve.


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