$242M Verdict to Family of Children Hurt by Seatbacks in Lexus Crash

The family of two young children who suffered traumatic brain injuries when the family’s 2002 Lexus sedan was struck from behind while sitting in traffic in September of 2016 have been awarded $242.1 million in damages by a Texas jury.

The children, Owen Reavis, 3, and his sister, Emily, 5, were severely injured in the back seat of the car when the front seats, where their parents were sitting in the Lexus, were forced backward by the impact of a Honda Pilot SUV that crashed into the rear of the car at 45 mph, according to an Aug. 20 story by CBS News.

The seatbacks of the Lexus collapsed backward due to the impact, causing the parents of the children, Ben and Kristi Reavis, to be pushed into the children with great force as they sat in their car seats, causing serious injuries to the toddlers, the story reported.

Both children suffered traumatic head injuries due to the impacts. The family was stopped in a traffic jam on a Dallas expressway when the crash occurred. Not even the children’s car safety seats could protect them from the collapsing front seats.

After hearing testimony about previous problems with front seats that can collapse in certain kinds of rear-end crashes in a wide range of vehicles, the jury’s verdict said they found “clear and convincing evidence” of gross negligence by Toyota, the parent company of Lexus, in connection with the incident, the story reported.

The jury “ruled that the automaker failed to warn consumers that front seats can collapse backward during certain types of rear-end collisions, and propel people into the backseat,” the story reported.

fatal crash

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

“The auto industry has long known car seats do not hold up in certain kinds of rear-end crashes where the vehicle is hit at a high rate of speed,” reported CBS. “The injuries to those in the backseat can be catastrophic. The internal documents show the cost to fix the problem could be on the order of $1 or so per seat.”

A CBS investigation identified more than 100 cases where seatback collapses resulted in serious injuries or death, mostly to children in the backseat, even though the seats exceed federal standards that date back to 1967, according to the story.

Several members of Congress are asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the seatback strength standard to make it more stringent in response, the story reported.

This move is long overdue. Imagine that, safety standards for automotive and truck seats have not been updated since 1967, even in the face of a growing amount of evidence over the last 50 years that children and other backseat passengers were being injured in crashes like these when the front seatbacks collapsed backward? That’s outrageous and needs to be addressed and fixed.

Today’s vehicles should be designed and built safer and stronger to prevent these kinds of terrible and perhaps preventable injuries.

Legal cases like this one occur around the nation every day and are examples of similar kinds of cases that MyPhillyLawyer attorneys regularly work on tirelessly for our own clients. Often, we are not able to discuss the cases we are actively working on due to confidentiality requirements, so we discuss other relevant cases in the news such as this one to illustrate the legal situations people find themselves in every day.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in any kind of vehicle incident anywhere in the United States. We pledge to make sure that you and your family get the compassionate, dogged and experienced legal representation that you deserve and expect from a professional legal team which works hard to uncover every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-789-9346 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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