Every day in Chicago and elsewhere, individuals depend on cars to get them from one place to another. When basic parts of the car fail to work in the way they were made to, serious injuries, even death, may result. For those injured or their loved ones, handling the unexpected medical bills and financial consequences may be challenging, but a personal lawsuit may provide them with proper compensation for the injuries sustained. Recently, Toyota Motor Corporation decided to settle claims related to issues with a faulty accelerator. That settlement, however, will not cover pending personal injury suits.
According to reports, Toyota has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit for claims regarding the automaker’s vehicles unintentionally accelerating. While the settlement covers claims relating to more than a million vehicles, Toyota likely still faces many smaller personal injury lawsuits. It may be difficult for plaintiffs filing personal injury suits against the large automaker, because it may be harder to prove the defects in the vehicles’ equipment.
In a personal injury claim for a car defect, liability is based on a standard of strict liability. This differs from a typical personal injury claim, which is governed by the law of negligence. Those injured or their loved ones, as plaintiffs in a personal injury claim, must prove that the component of the vehicle was unreasonably dangerous. They must also prove that the injury was a result of the defective component and occurred while the vehicle was used in a way it was designed to be used and that the vehicle was not substantially changed since it was first sold. If the claim is successful, the injured victim or the victim’s loved ones may receive damages for medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses and loss of income.
When purchasing a car, consumers should be able to trust that the equipment in their vehicle will work in the way the equipment was intended to be used. Unfortunately, components of vehicles do sometimes fail and cause injuries; for some, a personal injury suit may provide compensation and closure in these times.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Toyota poised to put legal troubles in rear view mirror,” Ben Klayman and Casey Sullivan, Dec. 27, 2012