Matthew and Marcia Seebachan survived a horrific Texas car accident in 2013, but not without devastating injuries. When their 2010 Honda Fit was struck head-on by a hydroplaning pickup truck, they were trapped in their vehicle for several minutes until onlookers freed them.
Marcia suffered internal bleeding, broken bones and bruising, while Matthew had fourth-degree burns to his lower body, both of his heels were broken, and hospitalized for the better portion of the last few years.
An investigation into the accident revealed that the car, which they had recently purchased used, had been damaged by hail before them having bought it, and the body shop doing the repairs had glued the new roof panel onto the vehicle instead of welding it as required by the manufacturer. As a result, during the crash the roof separated from the car, leading to the failures that caused the car’s doors to jam and the fuel tank to explode.
The evidence presented to the jury included an engineer, who testified that the Seebachen’s car accident was “virtually identical” to the tests that are run on automobiles to obtain their safety rating and that the Honda in its original condition would have survived the crash.
By using an alternative repair method and an untested glue, the repair shop had been responsible for the injuries that the couple suffered. As a result, the jury awarded the couple $42 million in damages.
Texas Car Accident Leaves Victim a “Professional Patient”
Before the car accident, Matthew Seebachen had planned on becoming a registered nurse, but as a result of his injuries he calls himself a “professional patient.” According to Marcia, the most shocking part of their entire ordeal was the fact that the accident — and their injuries — could have been prevented. The vehicle history report also did not disclose that the repairs had been made.
One of the things that had the most significant impact on the jury’s decision was testimony provided by the manager of John Eagle Collision Center. He indicated that though the guidance offered by car manufacturers is available to body shops, insurance companies place enormous pressure on the independent businesses providing their repairs, urging them to do everything in their power to reduce the costs of fixing vehicles to maximize insurance company costs.
In response, the Seebachans are also filing suit against State Farm Insurance Company, though they are seeking just a single dollar to send a message about the need for companies to act responsibly towards those who will eventually be driving poorly repaired cars.