MYRTLE BEACH — Lawyers representing a Myrtle Beach woman who was in a 2016 car accident have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with vehicle manufacturer Hyundai, resolving a claim that a seat back failure allegedly contributed to her injuries.
Seatback failure happens when the back of the front seat in a vehicle collapses during a collision.
A jury trial began April 26 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division, but was halted after the settlement was reached mid-trial.
Hyundai Motor America, Inc., and Hyundai Motor Company were defendants in the vehicle-defect suit. Motley Rice lawyers Kevin Dean and Lee Heath along with Myrtle Beach co-counsel Amy Lawrence and Justin Lovely of The Lovely Law Firm represented the woman and her husband.
On March 25, 2016, the Myrtle Beach woman was traveling northbound on U.S. 501 when she was rear-ended in her 2019 Hyundai Elantra by a Ford truck. Court records alleged that she was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the wreck, but due to “defects and undisclosed design changes,” the woman suffered a compression fracture to her lumbar vertebra, orbital wall and floor fractures, optic nerve damage and intracranial bleeding, emotional distress and permanent scarring.
The woman sued Hyundai claiming, among other things, negligence and failure to warn and sought punitive damages.
“Owners, drivers and their passengers should be able to trust that the manufacturers of their vehicles will test their products and assure they meet internal standards in the manufacturing process, and that their cars will keep them safe in accidents,” Dean said. “They shouldn’t ever have to worry about an auto defect worsening their injuries.”
“We presented evidence over the first week of this trial that we believe proved that our client should have suffered only minor injury or whiplash. We believe our evidence also would have proven to the jury that her driver’s seatback collapsed, was faulty, and caused our client’s severe, life-threatening injuries and permanent damage. We are grateful that Hyundai thought it best to settle this case at this time, but no one should be put through the expense and stress of five years of litigation when a company seemingly knows their vehicle failed a customer. We were confident the jury would have also agreed with us.”