How much is my car accident lawsuit worth?

A Texas jury has awarded the family of an 11-year-old child over $124 million for life-changing injuries suffered in a car crash. The case brings attention to outdated federal safety regulations regarding car seatbacks.

A week before Christmas in 2012, the father and his then 7-year-old son were in the family's car, a 2005 Audi A4 Quattro, stopped behind a school bus that was picking up children. When their car was rear-ended by another vehicle, the driver's seat collapsed, causing the father's head to fly back and strike his son's head directly behind him in the backseat, fracturing the boy's skull. Both father and son were injured, but the boy suffered permanent brain damage. He is also partially paralyzed and partially blind.

Old Safety Regulations Haven't Been Updated

According to the family's lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to update regulations that are decades old. NHTSA claims that it considered an update 12 years ago, but didn't have enough available data to justify the cost.

The Center for Auto Safety has joined the fight to strengthen regulations. CAS has sent a petition to NHTSA requesting the agency to "take action to protect children riding in the rear seats of vehicles from the risk of being killed or severely injured when struck by a collapsing front seatback in a rear-end crash." CAS also wants NHTSA to warn parents about the potential danger and to recommend that parents place children in rear-facing safety seats behind an unoccupied front seat.

Automakers Claim Child's Father Was at Fault

Audi and Volkswagen, which both manufactured the car in this case, argued that the father was to blame for the extent of the injuries because the boy was not in a child safety seat and neither he nor his son were wearing seatbelts. However, jurors found the father only 20 percent responsible and the driver who rear-ended them 25 percent at fault. The remaining liability was placed on the automakers. However, under Texas law, defendants who are found over 50 percent responsible must pay the entire amount of the $124.5 million reward.

Drivers should do everything possible to ensure the safety of those in their vehicle -- particularly children. However, automakers and other entities can be held liable when they fail in their responsibility to provide safe vehicles and parts. Personal injury attorneys can help victims seek the justice and compensation they deserve even if they aren't completely blameless for an accident or injuries.

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