That’s a lot of money…
Back in 2016, 19-year-old Breanna Bumgarner was driving her 2014 Ford Mustang down U.S. Route 33 near Spencer, West Virginia when a 1989 Toyota pickup crossed the center line. In the crash, the truck hit the Ford’s A-pillar, crumpling the driver’s door so Bumgarner couldn’t escape as the pony car caught fire. She burned alive.
A jury just found Ford to be 99% at fault for the young woman’s untimely death, holding the other driver only 1% accountable. That might seem off, but the jury took under consideration the allegation that fire was sparked by insufficient protection around the brake fluid reservoir, which ruptured and ignited the blaze.
Even worse, the attorneys representing Bumgarner’s mother argued the steel used in the Mustang’s safety cage was made of the same type used in the front and rear crumple zones. In other words, it deformed easily, trapping the 19-year-old inside because it lacked sufficient strength.
Those attorneys pointed to crash test results from 2011 which highlighted these two safety concerns with the Mustang. Yet Ford made no changes to the vehicle structure or materials used for three years after.
Ford’s attorney in the trial argued that the crash tests weren’t representative of the crash which killed Bumgarner. He pointed out the other side was using the small overlap test, which is a measurement of how a vehicle performs when the front corner strikes a pole, not when it’s sideswiped by an oncoming car at a 40-degree angle.
The trial lasted for over two weeks, with both sides laying out their case before the jury went into deliberations.
Searching the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s database, we found the only crash test information available for the 2014 Mustang refers to the tests done for the 2010 model year. IIHS awarded the pony car with a Good rating for the moderate overlap front test, Acceptable for side: original test, and Good for head restraints and seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the 2014 Ford Mustang with a 4-Star Safety Rating.
A Ford spokesman told the Charleston Gazette-Mail the company is looking at options for appealing the verdict.
Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail