A Federal jury in U.S. District Court decided on February 3rd that the accelerator of a 1996 Toyota Camry had a defect that was instrumental in causing a fatal car accident in 2006. Toyota must pay 11 million dollars to the victims and their families. Not all of the families who suffered injuries or lost a loved one in the collision on February 3rd were represented in this lawsuit. The driver of the car that is believed to have initiated the crash, Kona Fong Lee, brought the suit after being found guilty of negligent vehicular homicide. He was driving his Toyota the night of the accident and was initially deemed fully responsible for the injuries and deaths that arose when his Toyota went flying into another vehicle.
The jury found that Toyota was mostly responsible for the injuries and deaths associated with the collision. Plaintiffs alleged that Toyota had not done proper testing, and that if they had, this accident may have been avoided. At the time of the collision, there were no recalls on later model Toyota cars. According to the jury, the Toyota Camry was found to have a fault in its accelerator. If true, the accelerator may suddenly lock causing the car to gain speed and cause serious injury or death. The attorney for Toyota denied this was a problem in their later model vehicles, and repeatedly implied that the collision was fully the fault of driver error. While they did not outright say so, it is likely Toyota will appeal.
The jury came to the decision that Toyota was 60 percent to blame for the collision in 2006. The accident was horrific, leaving three people dead and two others with injuries that nearly killed them. In an odd twist, the jury did find that Kona Fong Lee was 40% to blame for the accident. Lee insisted that he was not to blame. From the onset, Lee said his car felt like it was taking off like a rocket. He said he tried to apply the brakes and even swerve, but the car accelerated at such a high speed that he had no control over what the car was doing.
Lee was first found guilty of negligent vehicular homicide in 2007. He was sentenced to 2 and 1/2 years in prison. All along, lee’s family tried to prove Toyota knew about the auto defect pertaining to faulty acceleration. On appeal, Lee’s case was overturned. He was found not to have been solely responsible for the horrible accident and was released from prison immediately. By this time families of other victims were coming forward with their claims about their Toyota cars. Toyota still insisted they were not liable for any of these accidents. The car manufacturer said it was all driver error and had nothing to do with their cars.
Soon after Mr. Lee was released from prison, it was determined that he was not given a fair trial. Mr. Lee is also suing for wrongful imprisonment.
Lee, his family and the family of the girl who died brought this lawsuit against Toyota in federal court. Toyota still insisted the accident was all negligence on Lee’s fault.
Those who have suffered injuries or who have lost a loved one following a collision are encouraged to speak with an attorney about possible representation. Many times, auto defects are overlooked by authorities and victims can be blamed for collisions that are the fault of negligent auto part manufacturers. Call (800) 838-6644 today to obtain a free auto defect case evaluation from a skilled attorney with decades of experience.
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