Yesterday The Supreme Court deviated from a previous case and ruled that the nation’s automakers can be sued for failing to install the most effective safety equipment in the cars that they sell. The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Delbert Williamson against Mazda Motors because his family’s 1993 minivan did not have a lap and shoulder belt in a middle rear seat. His wife, Thanh Williamson, was sitting in that rear seat wearing just a lap belt when their car was struck head-on on a Utah highway. She died in the accident.
Mr. Williamson is alleging that his wife’s wrongful death is the result of Mazda’s failure to install a more effective safety device (lap and shoulder seat belt) in the minivan. This ruling allows Mr. Williamson to move forward with his California lawsuit, but in order to win, his lawyer will need to prove that his wife’s wrongful death was the result of Mazda’s negligence and that failing to exceed the minimum federal safety standards is a cause of action. Throughout my thirty years as a Plantation car accident lawyer, I have represented numerous wrongful death victims, and I have always taken great pride in seeking justice for the wronged.
The lone bright spot in a case such as this one is the prospect that products liability lawsuits can lead safer products for consumers in the marketplace. Defective products can oftentimes lead to safety regulation improvements and improved products for all. As a Plantation car accident lawyer, I wholeheartedly support this ruling, because it should force manufacturers to exceed the minimum safety standards. I truly hope that this ruling is the first in a new wave of many that increase consumer protection.