After four days of deliberations, a federal jury finally reached a verdict for a personal injury lawsuit brought against Toyota. The case was brought before a federal jury to determine whether Toyota was to blame for an accident that left three people dead and two families devastated. The defense sued the company claiming that the Toyota vehicle involved in the accident was subject to a deadly design defect that caused the accelerator to become stuck.
The federal jury decided that Toyota was responsible for 60% of the accident, and the driver of the vehicle, Koua Fong Lee was responsible for 40%. Toyota must pay $11 million to the victims and families.
Following the verdict, Mr. Lee spoke to the Wall Street Journal. He explained, “No amount of money . . . will bring my life back; my life is not the same anymore . . . I tried everything I could to stop my car.”
Mr. Lee had been convicted of vehicular homicide following the accident and was sent to prison. However, when evidence came to light that certain Toyota vehicles could be subject to an acceleration defect that could cause the accelerator to become stuck, he was set free after spending two and a half years in jail.
Among the money Toyota is liable to pay, Mr. Lee will receive $750,000 in damages, with the remaining money going to the other affected family. When Mr. Lee’s Camry struck the family’s Ciera, the driver and the driver’s 9-year old son were killed instantly. The six year-old niece was paralyzed and died a year later.
The case got national attention in the wake of a record year for vehicle recalls.
Toyota continues to claim that the 1996 Camry had no acceleration defect. Jurors, however, ruled that the design defect was partially to blame for the accident, with the majority of the blame going to Toyota.
Minnesota is a comparative fault state, which uses the 51% bar rule. This means that a party cannot recover damages if the party seeking damages is found to be 51% or more at fault for an accident. In cases where another party is more than 51% at fault, the recovery of money and damages is then reduced and calculated based on the percentage of fault. This means that Toyota only has to pay for the percentage of fault it has been awarded, in this case, 60%.
Determining fault in a personal injury case is often a complex matter. In the case against Toyota, for instance, Mr. Lee’s attorney worked hard to establish that no matter what Mr. Lee did to stop his vehicle, the defect made stopping the vehicle impossible.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, you may have many questions about the value of your case, and how the comparative fault rule will affect your case. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino understands the unique challenges faced by accident victims. The firm works hard to ensure that families and victims receive justice and the maximum amounts allowable under the law.