Rear-end Collision Costs Toyota $242 Million

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
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  • IBx1 IBx1 on Aug 20, 2018

    I reckon the driver of the Pilot was negligent for plowing full highway speed into stopped traffic, but then the Pilot driver doesn't likely have $240M...

    • PandaBear PandaBear on Aug 20, 2018

      Exactly, deep pocket always loses (and lawyers sue for whatever insurance coverage it has regardless of damage).

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Aug 20, 2018

    So the lawyer is going to sue whether Toyota prioritize the safety of the front occupants (in this case hurting his rear occupants), or prioritize the safety of the rear occupants (in that case hurting his front occupants). This is why I hate lawyers. His whole family should have died so nothing left to sue for.

    • See 1 previous
    • BeSavvy BeSavvy on Aug 21, 2018

      @PandaBear To: @IBx1 and @PandaBear Ahh...WHY oh WHY...aren't facts important to you. The speed limit was 70...driver of Pilot was going 48.So why do you say "full highway speed", @IBx1? No matter what speed he was going, yes, he still plowed into the car; but everyone else involved walked away. The airbags didn't even deploy. What was it that caused the devastating injuries for 2 backseat passengers? Yes, something in the the car designed by the manufacturer who knew of the dangers a long time ago and which Congress has written letters to ask them to address. @PandaBear, actually those same designed seats in many accidents have maimed the driver/front seat passengers with spinal injuries, etc. Congratulations on being happy that it may keep them from getting whiplash. They really might prefer several weeks of that to being paralyzed or having TBI (traumatic brain injury) for the rest of their lives. Since you are already horrifically suggesting a "whole family" should have died, I guess you are not interested in safety and cannot imagine that others might be interested in saving you or the person you love most from a horrible tragedy.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three