Girardi | Keese

Vehicle failure causes injury to occupants, car dealership held responsible

When it comes to car accidents in the state of California, a majority of them are caused by driver negligence. But it's in those rare few where we find instances of product liability. And although an accident victim may have a clear case against the vehicle manufacturer or the company responsible for maintaining safety, the accused party will usually try to deflect blame; sometimes even onto the accident victim.

Such was the case for one Pennsylvania woman who sued the Toyota dealership responsible for maintaining a minivan she rented from them. While driving along with five other passengers, the car flipped, sending the vehicle careening down a ravine, severely injuring all the occupants inside. It was later determined that one of the ball joints on the vehicle had failed. According to her original 2010 complaint, the woman says that the dealership failed to maintain a safe vehicle and concealed the auto defect from her when she rented the car, directly resulting in her and her passengers' injuries.

Reminiscent of so many similar cases here in California, the Toyota dealership denied that they were responsible for the car accident, even going so far as to deflect blame back on to the victims. They argued that the woman had been driving at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident; and combined with the wet conditions, the dealership argued that the woman was responsible for causing the serious crash.

In the end, the jurors ended up agreeing with the plaintiff's, agreeing that the crash had been caused by automotive failure. The jury awarded the woman $11.4 million for her injuries, medical expenses and lost wages. Another $4.3 million was also awarded to the other passengers of the vehicle.

It's important to point out that while the details of this case may not happen in every situation, guilty parties have been known to try to deflect blame back onto accident accidents. This is especially true in product liability cases like this one where millions of dollars are at stake. But standing your ground with solid evidence can make situations such as this end positively for the involved victims.

Source: Pennsylvania Record, "Philly jury awards $15 million to plaintiff in products liability case against Toyota," Jon Campisi, Apr. 5, 2013

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