Minn. Boy Sues Parents over Injuries Sustained in Accident

January 8, 2007

Amy and Ted Harrison Sr. are being sued over a car crash that left their son permanently disabled, and they hope they lose the case now before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The plaintiff is their son, Teddy Harrison, who was 3 years old when he was thrown from his mother’s SUV during an accident in 2001. His car seat wasn’t buckled properly. He suffered brain damage and is now confined to a wheelchair.

If Teddy wins his case, the family’s auto insurance company would be forced to pay $100,000.

“This suit is about forcing the parents’ insurance company to live up to its responsibility,” said Robert King, one of the boy’s attorneys. “You hate to think you are promoting lawsuits, but this is an unusual case.”

The case made its way to Minnesota’s highest court for oral arguments. A decision is probably a few months away.

Teddy’s lawsuit was filed by his grandmother on his behalf. The state court of appeals ruled in his favor.

The case could affect all Minnesotans who tote children in car seats. Parents of injured children might find it easier to collect from insurance companies in certain instances, but caregivers and insurers could find themselves facing financial responsibility if a child gets hurt while riding in an improperly installed car seat.

And motorists involved in wrecks with child-carrying drivers could try to skirt financial responsibility by pointing to a parent’s negligent car-seat use.

“It’s not just a case about the Harrisons and Teddy. This is a case that could affect all other drivers going forward,” said attorney William Davidson, who was hired by Progressive insurance company to represent the parents.

The Harrisons, of Anoka County, declined to comment on the case.

According to court filings, investigators found that Teddy’s car seat latch didn’t lock properly because dirt and other debris was wedged inside. The father said he routinely cleaned the seat, according to a filing.

Previously, Teddy sued the car seat maker for product liability and the parties reached a secret settlement on the eve of trial.

The pending case accuses his parents of negligent maintenance and installation of the car seat.

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