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Defective Wheelchair Injury Lawsuit Nets $9.8M Verdict

We trust that the products we buy are going to be safe when used as advertised. This is true when it comes to everything from kitchen appliances to children’s toys to motor vehicles. Those who purchase certain items for medically-required uses may rely even more heavily on these devices, and need to know these devices are safe. 

Unfortunately for a man with disabilities who used a wheelchair, the product he used for mobility was proven unsafe. Plaintiff reportedly suffered injury to his lower extremity when an inward facing bolt punctured his skin. A month later, that wound was aggravated when a screw seat and aluminum seat rail failed, causing the seat to collapse and plaintiff to be ejected out of the wheelchair. The aggravation of that original wound meant it did not heal for a full three years, and he now suffers a permanent nerve-related injury.

Plaintiff filed his product liability lawsuit, alleging the chair was defective in its design, manufacture, warnings and repair. He presented evidence in his California trial that the design of his wheelchair was dangerous, rending the chair defective, and that the instructions provided by the manufacturer were inadequate, and thus the maker was negligent. Plaintiff presented evidence at trial that his wound-related injuries and nerve injuries are going to require $5 million in care in the future, and might not ever totally be resolved. 

Defendant argued the wheelchair wasn’t defective, and that the injury plaintiff suffered is instead a pressure sore. The company presented evidence plaintiff had suffered a leg fracture two years prior to the incident, and that the wounds were consistent with a pressure sore that developed as a result of installing a metal plate on the leg.

Defendant offered to settle the case for $100,000 and later for $350,000, but plaintiff rejected both offers.

News reports of the incident indicate trial lasted more than two weeks, with jurors taking two days to reach their verdict. They ultimately awarded $4.8 million in economic damages and $3 million in non-economic damages. Future damages were awarded in the amount of $2 million.

Our product liability attorneys in Orlando know that those who rely on wheelchairs need to know they can trust their chair. It’s as much about physical health as mental and emotional well-being. Some examples of other instances wherein defective wheelchairs caused serious injury to users are:

  • Wheels popping off, causing the user to fall;
  • Electrical shorts on the motorized chairs, causing burns, electrocution and other injuries;
  • Overheating of motor, causing burns and other injuries;
  • Battery short-circuits, resulting in burns and other injuries;
  • Use of defective materials or improper construction that causes serious injuries, such as pinching or crushing.

If a wheelchair is not safely designed or properly manufactured, it can cause serious injury.

This is not an insignificant issue, as the National Institutes of Health reports 2.2 million people in the U.S. depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility. An additional 6.5 million people use a cane, walker or crutches to help them in their mobility. If you are injured by a defect in your assistive device, we can help you recover damages.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

$9.8M Awarded in Defective Wheelchair Injury Lawsuit, July 20, 2017, By Lucy Campbell,

More Blog Entries:

Filing Slip-and-Fall Cases in Orlando, June 21, 2017, Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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