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Families win big over car giant in wrongful death suit

An Oklahoma jury has awarded a large sum to plaintiffs who sued Toyota over a 2007 crash. This is one of the many acceleration cases that are being heard throughout the country. The trial now moves on to the punitive damages stage.

In 2012, Toyota agreed to pay a $1 billion settlement to end hundreds of lawsuits that claimed economic losses due to the mass recall caused by sudden acceleration problems in their vehicles. This settlement, however, did not cover wrongful death and injury cases. Therefore, this the door remained open for suits like this one to proceed in Oklahoma.

In this case, an 83-year-old driver was injured when her car ran through an intersection and slammed into an embankment. She was driving a 2005 Camry at the time of the incident. A 70-year-old passenger was killed in the crash. The jury awarded $1.5 million to the driver and $1.5 million to the family of the deceased. The next step in the trial is the punitive damages stage of the trial, because the jury decided that Toyota acted with reckless disregard for the rights of others. For their part, Toyota maintained that the accident was not due to acceleration problems, but due to driver error.

Although a financial award will not bring back a loved one, awards such as this compensate for the financial losses and medical expenses for those who are injured. Certain family members in Louisiana seeking to receive justice for the loss of their loved ones may bring wrongful death claims.

Source: www.npr.org, "Okla. Jury: Toyota Liable In Acceleration Crash," October 24, 2013

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