Toyota Seatbelt Lawsuit Results in $12M Verdict

A California jury has awarded $12 million to a woman who was paralyzed in an auto accident as a teen, when the lap belt in a 1996 Toyota 4Runner allegedly failed to adequately protect her from injury. 

Chelsie Hill was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2010 auto accident. Despite wearing a lap belt, her spine was “jacknifed” by the accident, her doctor testified at trial.

The high school senior was one of five occupants in the Toyota SUV during the accident, seated in the middle rear seat.

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The driver, Aaron Corn, was reportedly drunk at the time of the accident and pleaded no contest to charges in 2011. However, the jury determined that Toyota was 90% responsible for Hill’s injuries, because it allowed the vehicle to be manufactured with only a lap belt for the middle seats, when a three-point restraint could have been designed into the vehicle for only a few hundred dollars more.

Corn was found to be 5% responsible for Hill’s injuries and Hill herself was found to be 5% responsible for her own injuries as well.

The Monteray County Superior Court jury awarded Hill $7.2 million for future medical expenses, $4 million for pain and suffering, $800,000 for lost life-time earnings and $650,000 for past medical expenses. She originally sought $30 million in damages.

In addition to paralysis, the former dancer also has been diagnosed with osteoporosis after being confined to a wheelchair and medical experts say she is only expected to live to the age of 65 due to complications from her injuries.

Toyota argued at trial that Hill’s injuries were because of the severity of the accident and because the seatbelt was improperly adjusted.


  • Tom MOctober 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    This is ridiculous! That was the standard in 1996. I hope Toyota appeals. Nobody can take any responisbility for their actions.

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