Just recently, one of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, Toyota, was fined a total of $17.4 million in a U.S. court for failing to reveal publicly a known and potentially dangerous manufacturing design defect. This court case was not the first for Toyota. In recent years, Toyota’s Lexus RX 350 and RX450h vehicles were in the end recalled because of the distinct possibility of the accelerator pedal adhering to the floor mat. If this takes place, the vehicle could then accelerate and the driver would have no control over the vehicle. These defects were known by Toyota for 3 years and these vehicles were widely used throughout the state of Missouri.
Our laws state that car makers must inform the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) of any defects that could jeopardize the safety of drivers or passengers 5 days after the defect has been identified. In this case Toyota was aware of at least 63 pedal cases which had interfered with the drivers’ ability to control the vehicle in question, but they had not acted on these reports.
Product Liability Laws and Wrongful Death
There are product liability laws in force in the state of Missouri and throughout the US that provide us with the much needed protection for a wrongful death that might take place as a result of the use of a defective product. Our manufacturers are by necessity driven by profit and don’t always see the importance of the smallest of defects in a product until a fatal accident takes place. When a wrongful death occurs, the family can sue the company at fault for damages.
Accidents Can Take Place For a Number of Reasons that Include:
- A design defect which makes the product dangerous
- A manufacturing defect when the product does not conform to the required safety specifications
- A marketing defect which could include misleading advertising, poor instructions for use and insufficient safety warnings.
We have in this country a federal agency called The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that oversees consumer products that are sold in the U.S. to ensure they don’t breach our high safety standards. They recall hundreds of commonly sold products yearly. Many of these are imported from overseas countries that don’t have the same standards of manufacturing that we are accustomed to. The agency’s annual statistics reveal that defective products cause hundreds of fatalities and thousands of hospitalizations every year throughout the country. Almost all of these are preventable.
Of all the defective products out in our marketplace, it is not unheard of for companies to recall products that have known defects and could cause a serious injury. In the end, if the products are not recalled, then sooner or later the result could be a lawsuit which is worth millions of dollars if a wrongful death takes place. This could be a make and break situation for some companies which have a restricted cash flow problem. There are daily reports in our media of where companies have been forced to pay out high levels of reimbursement to families as a result of their negligence.
A Wrongful Death Claim for a Defective Product
If you have lost a loved one due to a defective product, then you have a right to sue the company for damages. A wrongful death is a tragic event and is often hard to come to terms with, especially if it was preventable. To lose someone important in your life is irreplaceable, but to know that someone else was to blame for your loss is almost as bad. It is in your interest and those in our community that you make the company who manufactured the product accountable for their actions. You can do this by contacting St. Louis wrongful death lawyer Christopher Dixon, who will determine your eligibility to make a claim and will guide you through the process.
A Claim for a Wrongful Death is a Legal Entitlement
It may seem inappropriate to use the death of a loved one to acquire financial benefits, but this person died unexpectedly and would certainly have not wanted to leave their family out of pocket as a result of their uncontrollable wrongful death. Of course, the amount that can be claimed will be dependent on that person’s role in the family. If they were a substantial breadwinner, then this would be factored in to any compensation claim. However, if they had played only a minor role in providing for family financial assets then this will be assessed accordingly. There is no upper limit to the amount of money that can be claimed for financial hardship as a result of a Missouri wrongful death as each case is assessed on its individual merits. However, the non-economic component that covers the emotional side of a damages claim is vaguer, necessitating an evaluation by a top wrongful death lawyer.
Missouri Statute for Wrongful Deaths
In Missouri a statute confers the rights of those entitled to make a wrongful death claim and there are priorities on who can make the claim. Firstly, the spouse, any children whether they are adopted or natural, born legitimately or illegitimately and parents all are deemed equal in a Missouri wrongful death claim. Siblings are not top of the priority list but come second if other relatives do not exist.
Anyone who is considering making a damages claim for a wrongful death should consult an experienced lawyer who understands the Missouri statute and how it should be applied. Time might be wasted if there is any misunderstanding and will only add to the trauma that has already overcome the family. This especially true if the death was the result of a defective product and should not have taken place. In addition, prosecuting a wrongful death claim forces change upon the company who put the defective product into the stream of commerce and keeps the remainder of the community safe.
If you or a loved one has suffered a wrongful death, contact Missouri wrongful death attorney Christopher R. Dixon at 314.409.7060 to educate yourself on Missouri wrongful death law.