Hyundai ordered to pay damages in fatal crash

Posted on May 06, 2010

The father of a teenager who was killed in a rollover crash in a 2005 Hyundai Tucson has been awarded $1.8 million by a Texas jury in a case against the automaker.


Sarah Goodner, 19, was killed in 2007 when the Tuscon her sister was driving veered off the road and rolled over. Goodner had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, but was thrown through the back windshield because her passenger seat was reclined back too far. Her sister suffered only minor injuries in the accident. 


The lawsuit claims that consumers have never been warned of the dangers of riding in a moving car with their seat reclined too far back. A forty-five degree angle is the furthest a seat can be reclined before it becomes unsafe. 


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it knows of three death resulting from seat inclination. Goodner's family feels that automakers could go further to protect consumers and could better warn them about the dangers of riding with the seat too far back, such as a notification on the sun visor, not just in the owner's manual. Some manufacturers have seats that pop upright if the vehicle goes out of control. 


Hyundai plans to appeal the verdict claiming there was nothing defective with the vehicle.