California Court Upholds $25 Million Verdict in Fatal Car Accident Case

In 2012, a mother and her two children were killed in a Los Angeles car accident when their minivan was struck by another vehicle. According to reports, the vehicle, an Infinity QX56 manufactured by Nissan, was equipped with faulty brakes. Family members, including a father and surviving sister, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victims. The driver of the Nissan SUV also sought damages from the car manufacturer. The lawsuits claimed Nissan knew about safety issues related to the braking system, but failed to issue a safety recall.

Nissan Ordered to Pay $25 Million After Critical Failure in Brake System Causes Fatal Crash

Five years later, Nissan was ordered to pay $25 million for its role in the accident. Members of a Los Angeles jury determined that the crash was “100 percent attributable” to brake defects inherent in the Nissan SUV. The jury felt that Nissan was negligent for failing to issue a recall for the vehicle.

California Appellate Court Upholds Multi-Million Dollar Verdict

Earlier this year, a California appellate court upheld the multi-million dollar verdict. The court found no grounds to overturn the jury’s decision to hold the car manufacturer accountable for the deaths.

Nissan Negligent For Failing to Issue a Safety Recall

Companies that sell products in the state of California owe a duty of care to consumers. Under the state’s product liability laws, products must be designed, manufactured, and marketed safely. Companies can be held strictly liable for harm caused by defects in their products, whether or not they know about them.

Companies can also be held financially accountable for injuries if they know about a potential safety risk, but fail to pass that information on to consumers. Here, Nissan was accused of knowing about a software issue that prevented braking systems in some of its vehicles from working properly. Rather than warning consumers about the danger or issuing a recall, the company did nothing.

Specifically, the personal injury lawsuit argued that “rather than disclose this critical safety defect and recall the defective vehicles as it should have done…Nissan made a conscious decision to ignore the problem at the expense of the safety of its customers, those operating the defective vehicles, and the public at large.”

A Los Angeles jury agreed. Nissan’s decision to stand by and do nothing cost a mother and her two children their lives. The father, who had been driving the minivan at the time of the accident, also has to deal with the loss of his family for the rest of his life. Now Nissan is being forced to pay millions of dollars for its negligence.

Damages Awarded for Loss of Family Members, Financial Support

The Los Angeles jury determined that Nissan was negligent and responsible for the fatal crash. The jury issued awards to the driver of the Nissan SUV, the father of the victims, and a surviving sister.

  • The husband and father of the victims was awarded $14 million for the loss of his daughters.
  • The surviving sister was awarded $7.431 million dollars. The award covered the loss of her mother and financial support she would have received had her mother survived.
  • The driver of the Nissan SUV was awarded $3.5 million for his injuries.

In total, Nissan was ordered to pay $25 million to compensate for its negligence. The company’s attempt to appeal the multi-million dollar verdict was unsuccessful. The verdict should encourage Nissan and other car manufacturers to consumer safety, rather than profits, first.