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ARTICLE ID 41599

DEFENDANT''S Alleged failure of front and side airbags to deploy in ________ Hyundai Sonata struck on the driver''s front quarter panel by dump truck - Non-displaced fracture of left tibial plateau.

Sandoval County, New Mexico

The plaintiff in this products liability matter alleged that the front and side impact airbags on his ________ Hyundai Sonata failed to deploy when his vehicle was struck on the driver’s side by a dump truck. The plaintiff was restrained at the time of the collision. He claimed that he suffered intermittent loss of consciousness and has little or no memory of the accident. The plaintiff was extracted from his vehicle using the "jaws of life". He sustained a longitudinal, non-displaced fracture through the lateral tibial plateau on the left knee. The fracture was treated non-operatively. The plaintiff alleged that he may require a future knee replacement and is at increased risk for osteoarthritis in the bone joint.

The male plaintiff was operating his ________ Hyundai Sonata on July 5, ________ in a northbound direction on Idalia Road. Another driver was operating a ________ International "roll off" dump truck owned by the codefendant Road Runner Waste Services. The defendant driver was traveling eastbound on Iris Street. The operator of the dump truck failed to yield the right of way and proceeded into the  3 3 intersection where she collided with the left front quarter panel of the plaintiff’s vehicle near the front wheel. The plaintiff alleged that none of the airbags in the vehicle deployed. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant Hyundai alleging that the airbags in the ________ Hyundai Sonata were defective and failed to deploy as they were intended to do.

The defendant Hyundai denied that there was any defect in the airbags. The defendant maintained that due to the location of the impact, deployment of the airbags was not merited. The defendant presented expert testimony to support its position and maintained through that testimony that even if the front and/or side airbags would have deployed they would not have prevented the fracture to the plaintiff’s leg. The defendant maintained that neither the front nor the side airbags are designed to provide energy absorption for the lower leg areas of front seat occupants. The defendant through its experts maintained that if the airbags did deploy in this type of accident there was strong possibility that the plaintiff could have sustained far more serious injuries than those sustained in the accident.

The plaintiff’s expert testimony maintained that the airbags should have deployed at impact speeds much lower than the speed of this collision which was determined, through the assistance of accident reconstruction experts, to have occurred at 30-40 miles per hour. The defendant was able to demonstrate through cross examination of the plaintiff’s expert that a defect in the plaintiff’s brakes caused uneven brake application which if not present may have prevented the collision altogether.

The plaintiff settled with the operator of the dump truck and its owner prior to the trial for an undisclosed sum. The trial in this matter proceeded only as to the products liability claims against the defendant Hyundai. Following a three-day trial and less than one hour of deliberation, the jury returned its verdict in favor of defendant Hyundai and against the plaintiff on these claims.

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