Major car accidents happen throughout New York and other states around the country all the time. And while serious and even fatal automobile collisions are not uncommon, the specific circumstances surrounding individual crashes can be extraordinary in some circumstances. A recent case illustrates how personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits filed against carmakers can be incredibly complicated and difficult to win when the exact cause of a collision is not identified.
In 2009, a 66-year-old woman died when her Toyota Camry accelerated at high speeds, striking a tree and telephone pole after first colliding with another vehicle. The fatal incident prompted the victim’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant was liable for the crash because they did not install technology in the car to prohibit unintended acceleration. The jury found, however, that the defendant was not conclusively responsible for the woman’s death.
The ruling in that particular case may have been influenced by the defendant’s argument that human error, not an equipment malfunction, may have caused the vehicle to accelerate after the initial collision. Those familiar with the series of lawsuits recently filed against the defendant note that any doubt over the exact cause of a car accident can result in a non-guilty verdict for defendants. The fact that the incident involved another collision may have also raised doubts over why the car would accelerate again.
It’s estimated that the odds are extremely low that unwanted acceleration is due to some kind of software malfunction. However, the defendant now faces hundreds of lawsuits around the country claiming that such glitches have caused serious injuries and death to motorists, adding credence to plaintiffs’ accusations.
Source: stlttoday.com, “Toyota riding momentum in wild acceleration cases,” Justin Pritchard, Oct. 11, 2013