latest automotive news, best new and used cars, find a new car 338f7_16-2002-ES-300-610x403 Rear-end Collision Costs Toyota $242 Million Lexus

After deliberating eight hours, a Texas jury ordered Toyota to pay $242.1 million to compensate a Dallas family involved in a 2016 rear-end collision that seriously injured two children.

The children, aged 3 and 5, were rear-seat occupants in a 2002 Lexus ES300 driven by parents Benjamin and Kristi Reavis on Dallas’ North Central Expressway. While stopped in traffic, a Honda Pilot collided with the rear of the car at a high rate of speed, causing the front seatbacks to collapse.

The boy and girl, sitting in child seats, sustained serious head trauma as a result of the collision. Of the hefty total, the Aug. 17th verdict rendered by the Dallas County District Court jury includes $143.6 million in punitive damages for “gross negligence.”

Frank L. Branson, founder of the law office that bears his name, argued Toyota designed the seatbacks to favor the safety of front seat occupants over those in the rear — a claim Toyota disputes.

“This is a danger that Toyota has known about,” Branson said in a statement. “This company has had plenty of time to design around these safety shortcomings or at least provide the public with warnings. Our children deserve better.”

While a collapsing seatback would certainly help reduce the chance of whiplash in a rear-end collision, as Branson claims, it also places front-seat occupants in danger of sliding out from under their seatbelts, thus increasing the risk of a different type of injury. This author has personally attended an accident scene where a high-speed rear-end collision (in this case, with a tree) resulted in the driver’s death after the seatback failed.

“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 Reuters.

The automaker claimed it will consider its options going forward.

[Image: Lexus]

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