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ABC 13 News

Man Sues Ford Over Seatbelt & Seatback Failure


HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A Houston-area man says what was supposed to protect him in a truck failed is the reason he's paralyzed. Now he's taking action, hoping what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone else. The government has also taken notice of this safety issue.


The accident happened on Highway 59 north of town. Michael Williams says he clicked his seatbelt after he got into the passenger's seat, fell asleep and woke up three weeks later to the news that he was paralyzed.


Something as simple as getting out of the car is now difficult for Williams.


"Right now, it's really like I can't do much of anything by myself," he said.


And if it wasn't for his wife Tiffany, he'd still be struggling, as he's already learned.


"We kind of got into an argument one night, so I took it upon myself to get in bed myself, and it took me like an hour," Williams said.


That's his reality since May; he's been depending on Tiffany almost 24 hours a day ever since an early morning accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.


"I think most of the work is on her," Williams said.


Williams was a passenger in a Ford F-150 when the driver fell asleep, the truck rolled and he was ejected. The problem is his attorney says he was wearing his seatbelt.


"People aren't supposed to be ejected from cars if they're wearing their seatbelts," said Jason Gibson, Williams' attorney.


We found similar cases online and there were enough for the government to issue a seatbelt recall for that make and model. Williams is now suing Ford.


A Ford spokeswoman told us, "We don't comment on pending cases."


Ever since the first time Williams saw the truck since the accident, he's drawn one conclusion.


"It looks like I would have been all right if I stayed in there, 'cause the ceilings not crushed in on it; the door is not all the way caved in," he said.


The former oil field worker is surprisingly not angry.


"Why would I live my life mad?" he said.


He hopes he'll be accepted into a stem cell research project and dreams of walking again.


"I want to be able to walk, maybe dance; I was pretty good at dancing," Williams said. "That's how I got her." For now, he accepts little victories, like getting into his car with as little trouble as possible.


"I'm 26 years old," he said. "I should be able to take care of myself, and now it's like starting all over again."


Williams' attorney filed this lawsuit Friday, alleging negligence. Williams says he's nervous now riding in cars but still encourages everyone to use their seatbelts even though he thinks one failed him.

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