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Wrongful death suits difficult to prove against carmakers

Factors like driver negligence, road debris, and poor weather conditions are known to contribute to serious car accidents in California and beyond. The causes of some collisions are more difficult to identify, though, and can involve more subtle issues like equipment malfunction. That’s why wrongful death lawsuits filed against carmakers can be so complex in nature and challenging to win. One recent case illustrates how the results of a lawsuit can depend on determining the exact cause of a fatal accident.

One recent case revolves around an elderly woman that was killed when her Toyota Camry accelerated uncontrollably and struck a tree and telephone pole after first colliding with another vehicle four years ago. The family of the victim claims that brake override technology could have been installed in the vehicle to eliminate the risk of extreme acceleration, but a jury found in favor of the automaker.

The defendant in the case argued that the victim herself could have caused the vehicle to accelerate in the manner it did. And because doubt remained over the exact cause of the fatal incident, the carmaker was not held responsible for the victim’s death. The jury on the case may have questioned what role the initial accident played in the incident too.

The defendant is currently facing hundreds of similar lawsuits, all claiming that some kind of flaw in vehicle design contributed to serious and fatal collisions around the country. And while it’s true that the odds of extreme acceleration being caused by technology malfunction are low, the sheer number of claims supports such accusations.

Source: stlttoday.com, “Toyota riding momentum in wild acceleration cases,” Justin Pritchard, Oct. 11, 2013

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