A federal jury decided that the design of the 1996 Toyota Camry had a dangerous sudden acceleration defect that was partially responsible for a fatal 2006 crash.
According to an Associated Press news report, jurors ordered the automaker to pay nearly $11 million to victims.
The jury determined that the company was 60 percent to blame for the accident, which left three people dead and two seriously injured.
However, they also found that Koua Fong Lee, who has consistently stated he insisted to stop his car before it rammed into the victims’ vehicle, was 40 percent at fault.
Lee, his family members, the family of a deceased victim and two others who were seriously injured, sued Toyota in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Sudden Acceleration Defect
The lawsuit alleged that the fatal crash was caused by an acceleration defect in Lee’s Toyota, but the Japanese automaker has argued that there was no such defect and that the crash was caused by Lee’s negligence.
AP quoted Lee as saying that no amount of money will bring back the years he has lost as a result of the accident. After the accident, Lee was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to prison.
He was released after details surfaced about the Toyota sudden acceleration defect. Lee said he did everything he could to stop the car, but that it accelerated out of control.
Toyota released a statement saying that it will consider its legal options including an appeal of the jury’s decision. Lee will receive $750,000 out of the $11 million the jury said Toyota should pay.
How Auto Defects Can Change Lives
This particular case is a classic example of how a dangerous and defective vehicle can turn lives upside down. Lee, a man with no prior criminal record, did prison time for an accident he did not primarily cause.
Not to mention others who were seriously injured and two children who were killed in this crash. In Lee’s cause, the car started hurtling out of control. The defect turned the vehicle into a torpedo.
Often, when such incidents occur, we don’t see much beyond the initial impact – the injuries and fatalities. But, victims and families endure a lifetime of trauma and grief, paying the ultimate price for an automaker’s negligence.
This is exactly what happens when automakers put profits ahead of people and fail to manufacture vehicles that are safe for consumers.