Toyota Ordered to Pay $194 Million to Family in Lexus Crash

In a verdict just upheld by a Texas appeals court, Toyota was ordered to pay a family rear-ended in their Lexus, $194 million due to their injuries. The 2016 crash happened on the Dallas North Central Expressway in Texas. The two parents and both children were injured when a Honda Pilot slammed into them while stopped for traffic.

A Honda was traveling about 45 mph when it hit the 2002 Lexus ES 300

A Lexus sign, as luxury vehicles, Lexus are known for having a higher rate of depreciation
Lexus sign | Nathan Stirk, Getty Images

As reported by CarComplaints a Honda was traveling about 45 mph when it hit the 2002 Lexus ES 300. Both small children were in child seats in the back seat. They were three and five years old. When impact occurred the front seats collapsed backward.

The lawsuit describes what happened next. Upon impact “the parents ramped up over the tops of their front seats and slipped out of their seatbelts. Launching headfirst into the back seat both of their heads violently hit the heads of their children in their car seats.” Both children received severe head trauma resulting in permanent brain damage from the impact. 

Toyota has maintained the Lexus met all federal safety standards. It says the seats are meant to collapse to protect the front seat passengers from any injuries. But in 2018 the jury awarded the family $242 million. Later, the amount was lowered to $213 million. About $144 million of the award was in punitive damages. 

A Dallas Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the verdict

A Toyota emblem is seen on the front of a 2012 model year Camry | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A $19.4 million judgment against Toyota Motor Sales USA was asked to be dropped by the plaintiffs. No reason was given why they requested this. The Dallas Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. There is a possibility that Toyota will appeal the decision now to the Texas Supreme Court. 

Toyota was found guilty of not performing similar crash tests for this type of collision. The ruling says these types of collisions happen more than 77,000 times every year. Because these are a common crash the courts said this “is evidence of conscious indifference to a known extreme degree of risk of potential harm to others.”

NHTSA says there is insufficient information to warrant changing the standards

A red Toyota Motor Corp. Lexus IS300 sedan at a Lexus dealership in Tokyo, Japan
The 2021 Lexus IS300 | Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A CBS News investigation found over 100 similar cases of a rear-end collision in a Lexus causing head trauma mostly to children in the back seat. A number of congressmen have approached the NHTSA to have the seatback standards strengthened. The NHTSA says there is insufficient information to warrant changing the standards. It maintains that the back seat is the safest place in a car for children. 

“While we respect the jury’s decision, we remain confident that the injuries sustained were the result of factors specific to this very severe collision, not a defect in the design or manufacturing of the 2002 Lexus ES300,” a Toyota spokesman said in an emailed statement to the press.

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