As bellwether wrongful death and injury cases proceed to trial against a major automotive manufacturer related to allegations of sticky gas pedals, improperly installed floor mats and faulty electrical components, expert testimony may make or break cases in trial and is certainly contributing to the recent settlements.
In late December 2012 the automotive manufacturer decided pay over $1 billion dollars to settle a number of sudden-acceleration cases. The number of vehicles involved in the settlement, along with the amount of the settlement, makes it the largest the automotive industry has seen. Last week the automaker also settled what was supposed to be the first injury and wrongful death case to be tried against in the sudden-acceleration cases. The defendant has maintained that driver error, faulty floor mats or stuck accelerator pedals cased the crashes, while plaintiffs’ attorneys content that faulty electrical components controlling the acceleration in the vehicles in addition to the faulty floor mats, caused the accidents.
As we know, experts play a huge part in cases that make it to trial. Even if these cases do not make it to a jury, the expert testimony on both sides has and will continue to facilitate fair settlements. Expert witness testimony is particularly helpful in settlement discussions because it provides a complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, each party can accurately evaluate the strength of their position and the likelihood of success at trial.
It is likely that both sides are working with a number of experts in these injury and wrongful death cases including:
- Accident Reconstruction Experts
- Human Factors Experts
- Roads and Road Design Experts
- Automotive Engineering and Electrical Systems Experts
- Medical Experts
- Vocational Rehabilitation Experts
- Life Care Planning Experts
- Accounting Experts
While the recent settlements have stopped the public from hearing the intricate details of how the accidents happened, we can be sure that expert testimony had played a large part in the settlement of these cases.
By: Mary Wenzel, J.D.