Engine defect could be to blame in fatal Orange County crash

Investigators are looking into whether unintended acceleration problem led to crash

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that investigators are looking into whether an engine defect could have led to a fatal car crash in Orange County on April 9. The crash happened when a 2006 Toyota Solara was struck by a hit-and-run driver and then sped into a daycare center. The tragic crash led to the death of one child and injured 14 others.

Acceleration defect investigated

The Florida Highway Patrol said they are investigating whether an acceleration problem could be to blame for the crash. The initial hit-and-run crash occurred 100 feet away from the daycare center. After the car hit the brick and cedar wall of the building, it continued to push debris for a further 70 feet before stopping.

Investigators also say that extensive termite damage inside the wall of the daycare center may have weakened the structure, thus contributing to the seriousness of the crash.

Lawsuits follow car defects

The 2006 Toyota Solara is the same make and model that was named in a lawsuit filed against Toyota last year. In that lawsuit, Toyota owners sued the carmaker after acceleration problems led to a loss of resale value for their cars. The case was settled in July for $1.6 billion.

Adding to Toyota's woes, in March the car company settled a criminal probe with the U.S. Justice Department over how the company handled the unintended acceleration problems in some of its cars. The company was fined a record-breaking $1.2 billion for misleading customers about the defects. The Justice Department says that Toyota knew about the acceleration problems but failed to report them to regulatory bodies.

Those acceleration problems, which caused cars to accelerate rapidly despite drivers trying to stop them, have already been linked to five deaths. According to USA Today, the problems have led to hundreds of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits in California and federal courts. The carmaker announced in December that it was in talks to settle 400 of those lawsuits.

Product liability in accidents

This tragic case shows why it is so important for manufacturers to ensure that their products meet the highest safety requirements. In cases involving motor vehicle accidents, especially, a small defect can have fatal consequences. When a product defect is at least partially to blame for a car accident then victims should be able to hold the manufacturer responsible for its negligence. Unfortunately, while such cases can have devastating consequences, victims of such crashes often feel intimidated going up against big manufacturers. As such, it is imperative for such victims to have a personal injury lawyer on their side who can help their clients fight for adequate compensation. By hiring the services of such a lawyer can victims of motor vehicle accidents be assured their rights will be fully explored and protected.