Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Victims of Lexus Crash Identified

Mechanical failures are one of the common causes of car crashes.

In San Diego, a gruesome car accident happened which was believed to be caused by a manufacturing defect.

A Lexus 2009 ES 350 driven by California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor crashed and was caught on fire. The Lexus was loaned to Saylor after he dropped his vehicle off for service. The car was taking on state Route 125 and Mission Gorge Road in Santee when its accelerator stuck and the car could not be stopped.

Then the unthinkable happened, the Lexus collided with a Ford explorer, plowed a curb, hit an embankment, rolled over then burst instantaneously. Aside from Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law were on the car. Initially, only his daughter was identified. The identity of the rest followed after further examination by the Medical Examiner's Office.

The dealership sales manager Blair Carter said that the car had a double redundant fail-safe system that shut the car off in case of major malfunctions. He added that the car had been inspected and ran through series of diagnostic tests and no problems were found. The same procedure was done for four other ES 350 models used as loaned cars.

In 2007, Toyota recalled about 30,000 “all weather” floor mats used in the 2008 Lexus ES 350 due to their effect in the car’s acceleration. The mats also caused the brakes to overheat.

The investigation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that accidents were due to the mats placed on top of the standard mats preventing the top mat from being fastened insecurely allowing it to slip forward and causing unintended accelerations. In fact, there were 12 injuries and 40 complaints regarding the mats.

The NHTSA gave Toyota drivers warning to check their accessory mats to make sure that they were properly installed. But no recall or warning had been made on 2009 ES 350.

In this particular case, the Sheriff's investigators and the CHP's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team were one in finding whether the car’s mat caused the crash.

If the crash was caused by the acceleration malfunction, the manufacturer and/or the dealership could be indicted for it. By employing a product liability attorney, a personal injury case can be filed against the negligent party.