ESPN reported that the family of a major league baseball prospect who was killed in 2001 in an SUV rollover accident after leaving spring training won a multi-million judgment against the Ford Motor Company. The baseball prospect died from personal injuries sustained when his Ford Explorer SUV veered off of the highway and rolled over. The family contended that the Ford Explorer is defective and unreasonably dangerous for its users. Plus, the family added that the SUV was dangerous for the uses for which it was marketed because the vehicle has an unreasonable tendency to roll over when used as Ford marketed it to be used – as a station wagon replacement. The vehicle was also defective and unreasonably dangerous from an occupant protection or crashworthiness standpoint because the safety belt failed to remain locked and permitted the wrongful death victim to be thrown from the car and killed.
While rollover accidents do not occur as frequently as other types of car crashes, when they do occur, they often result in serious personal injuries or deaths. SUV rollover accidents accounted for more than 10,000 fatalities in the United States in 1999, which is greater than side and rear motor vehicle accidents combined. More than 90% of rollovers occur after a driver runs off of the road, like the major league baseball prospect discussed above. Drivers roll over the pavement after the driver has lost control of the vehicle; the pavement, a ditch, soft soil, curb, or other tripping mechanism usually initiates the rollover accident once the vehicle slides off.
More information on the wrongful death verdict is available at ESPN.