Vehicle Defect Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Anton Yelchin Death
Fans of the recent "Star Trek" movie franchise were shocked last year when actor Anton Yelchin died in a fatal crash right outside his home. The young actor had just climbed out of his Jeep Cherokee when he was crushed according to news reports. His vehicle reportedly pinned him against a security gate and brick wall outside his home when it rolled backward after he exited the vehicle. In this article, our Atlanta defective vehicle lawyers examine Yelchin's parents' recently filed wrongful death lawsuit against manufacturer ZF North America, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the car dealership, Auto Nation, which sold the vehicle.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the Jeep rolled away because of a design defect involving the vehicle's electronic gear shift position indicator. The actor allegedly believed the vehicle was in "park" because of the misleading electronic indicator. However, the vehicle was never shifted into "park." After Yelchin had gotten out of his vehicle, it rolled backward down the steep driveway, pinning the actor against the wall and gate and causing him to suffer fatal crush injuries. The details of the tragedy are particularly disturbing because Yelchin lingered alive for some period before eventually suffocating according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the automaker had knowledge of the design defect. The vehicle manufacturer recalled 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees worldwide and 811,000 in the U.S. during April 2016 because the company received 41 reports of accidents causing injury linked to the gear shift. The parents' lawsuit indicates that a recall notice was mailed to Yelchin's home one week after the fatal accident that killed their son. It advised consumers that the automaker would update the gear-shift software to include an "Auto Park" feature. While the automaker has not admitted that the gear-shift design is defective, it has acknowledged that rollaways have occurred because drivers incorrectly thought they had put their vehicles in "park" before getting out.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the defectively designed gear-shift control has caused 266 vehicle accidents and 68 injuries. The report indicates that this type of gear-shift control leads to rollaway crashes because the indicator is confusing for drivers. The vast majority of the reported crashes involved drivers who mistakenly believed the vehicle was shifted into "park." NHTSA indicates there have been 686 complaints linked to vehicles covered by the gear-shift defect recall.
The tragedy also has prompted the filing of a class action lawsuit against the automaker. The class action filed against the manufacturer of the vehicles on June 23, 2016, accuses the company of "intentionally covering up fatal design flaws and deaths from defects."
When a defective component or vehicle constitutes a substantial factor in causing injury or death in a collision, a range of parties can be held liable. As a general rule, the injury victim may have the right to pursue a claim for financial compensation against the automaker and dealership that sold the vehicle. Plaintiffs also might pursue injury claims against companies involved in designing or manufacturing the faulty component. When an accident involves severe debilitating injuries or wrongful death, personal injury lawyers typically sue multiple parties to maximize access to insurance coverage and assets that can be used to satisfy a settlement or judgment.
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If you have been injured in a car accident involving a defective vehicle, our experienced Atlanta defective vehicle lawyers work diligently to pursue the fullest compensation for our clients within the bounds of the law. The law firm of Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been representing those who suffer serious injuries in Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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