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Family of woman killed in crash sues car manufacturer


The family of a 66-year old Los Angeles woman killed in a 2009 car crash has filed a products liability lawsuit against Toyota alleging that the car the woman was operating had a faulty electronic throttle control mechanism leading to sudden, unexpected acceleration in the vehicle. The woman was killed when the car she was driving accelerated to speeds of up to 100 mph on a 30 mph speed limit road. In order to avoid striking other motorists, she swerved her car onto a median and crashed into a tree and a telephone pole.

Toyota has blamed the accident and others like it on problems such as stuck floor mats and stuck accelerators, as well as on driver error. The family denies this, citing the woman's reputation as an extremely careful driver who feared high speeds and often avoided the freeway in driving to and from the family's sushi restaurant. The woman's family alleges that an unsafe product in the form of an electrical error in the car's throttle control caused the unexpected acceleration that caused the accident, and seeks general and punitive damages.

Products liability is that imposed on a manufacturer or retailer of unsafe products. In order to prevail on a products liability claim, the victim must prove that the product had a design or manufacturing defect when it left the defendant's control. They must also prove that the victim was harmed as a result of the alleged defect.

In this particular case, it is alleged that the cars were defective when they left Toyota's control because they had a defect in the throttle control, causing them to speed up uncontrollably, leading to the accident that took the woman's life. As further evidence, the plaintiffs allege that Toyota installed an accelerator override system on cars sold in Europe, but did not do so for the type of car operated in this case.

Los Angeles victims injured by a defective product are entitled to financial compensation in the form of monetary damages. Though it is not possible to quantify their loss, compensation covers expenses such as disability incurred, lost wages, and medical bills. An injured person or their loved ones has the legal right to obtain an equitable relief for injury caused by a defective product.

Source: SunHerald.com, "Toyota sudden acceleration case set to begin in CA," Greg Risling, July 21, 2013.

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