On the morning of Monday, March 30, 2015, an elderly driver of a 2006 Toyota Rav4 drove into a shopping center parking lot in Great Neck, New York on Northern Boulevard by Nassau Road. For some reason, the driver was unable to bring her car to a stop in a parking spot in front of an AT&T store in the parking lot. The car crashed through the front windows of the store and drove into the store.
A woman was sitting on a couch near the front windows at the time of the crash. The SUV rolled over her body and stopped. The victim was trapped under the tires of the car. Customers and employees of the AT&T, as well as neighboring stores, came to assist the woman. While part of the group worked together to lift the SUV, another part of the group pulled the woman out from under the car. However, she was later pronounced dead from the injuries.
This tragic accident caused numerous damages. First, the driver may have been injured. Her car insurance may be required to reimburse the driver for medical expenses, lost wages if she is unable to work due to injury, and pain and suffering. The car insurance policy will dictate any deductibles or maximum reimbursements.
In addition, the accident likely caused damage to the driver’s vehicle. The car had to be towed out of the store as it was unsafe to drive. The driver will report any damage to the car insurance company. The company will send an adjuster out to assess the damages. The company will then either pay to fix the damages or will issue a check for the value of the car, minus any deductible.
Third, the driver will be liable for any damages to AT&T and the shopping center’s property. This includes the shattered front windows and any property damage inside of the store. The car insurance policy will dictate what amount the car insurance company will pay out after a deductible. If the property damages exceed this amount, the store may sue the driver directly for compensation.
Finally, the victim who died in the accident will have a personal injury (survival action) and a wrongful death claim. Again, the car insurance company will pay the family of the victim a set amount, as dictated by the insurance policy. The family can then pursue a civil lawsuit against the driver for damages.
Interestingly enough, the driver of the car was driving a Toyota and says she was unable to stop the car. In 2009, reports began to surface of Toyota vehicles mysteriously accelerating on their own. This led to several fatal car accidents. The victims claimed that the car began accelerating for no reason, and braking was unable to stop or slow the acceleration.
At first, Toyota blamed the issue on floor mats that had shifted and gotten lodged under the gas pedal. However, a crash occurred in 2009 in which all floor mats had been placed in the trunk of the vehicle. This led Toyota to begin issuing recalls. Dealerships were instructed to update the vehicles’ computer systems with a special program that would disable the throttle pedal when the brake pedal was pressed. Toyota then issued a recall on the throttle pedal, which stated that the pedal may become stuck in a depressed position.
Exact details about why the Rav4 could not be stopped in this case are not known. However, this may be a case of Toyota unintended acceleration. The driver of the car, as well as the victim of the crash, may be able to pursue a claim against Toyota. A complaint could be lodged with NHTSA, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, which is the federal agency tasked with investigating car accidents and faulty car manufacturing. In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed against Toyota.
If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in a car accident, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today to discuss your case.