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What Is Sudden Acceleration?

November 10, 2023

Driver error is the number one cause of car accidents but that doesn’t mean that some accidents aren’t completely outside of the control of the driver. Sometimes the investigation of a car accident reveals that the manufacturer of a defective auto part is at fault for injuries because an accident would not have occurred if the part hadn’t malfunctioned or failed to function appropriately.

Some serious car accidents have occurred due to a malfunction of a car’s acceleration system. Sudden unintended acceleration of a vehicle is both terrifying for the driver and also dangerous to the driver, passengers, and other motorists on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 97 traffic accident deaths occur each year due to sudden unintended acceleration in a vehicle.

What Is Sudden Unintended Acceleration?

One type of automobile system defect known to cause devastating car accidents is sudden unintended acceleration. Reports of these incidents have appeared in car accident claims for decades, most notoriously in Toyota vehicles during the last decade, but also in vehicles by several other major manufacturers including Lexus, Audi, Ford, and Hyundai.

Sudden unintended acceleration occurs when a vehicle picks up speed beyond the driver’s control due to an electronic malfunction or other cause. In many malfunctions that cause unintended acceleration, the driver loses all control and is unable to intervene, even when removing their foot from the accelerator or attempting to apply the brake. When a driver loses control of this key function, the car’s speed increases unchecked, often resulting in a serious collision with another vehicle or an obstacle.

Most experiences of unintended acceleration occur suddenly, with the vehicle appearing to rapidly gain speed beyond the control of the driver. Rarely, this is the fault of the driver, such as in cases of loose floormats or debris on the car floor interfering in the pedal’s function. More often, unintended acceleration occurs due to the following:

  •  A sticky accelerator pedal
  • Electronic code defects
  • Defects in accelerator linkage
  • Electromagnetic interference

When a defect in a car part or a defective electronic system in a vehicle results in unintended acceleration and a serious car accident, the vehicle manufacturer or the manufacturer of the defective part is liable for damages.

Liability in Sudden Acceleration Accidents

Proving liability in this type of accident requires demonstrating how the party at fault—typically the vehicle manufacturer—owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injury to others, that they breached this duty of care by acting negligently in producing and marketing an unsafe product, their breach of duty directly caused injuries, and the injury victim experienced significant damages from the injury. “Damages” in a personal injury claim include the economic and non-economic consequences of the injury.

Damages in Unintended Acceleration Cases 

When an accident occurs due to unintended acceleration, the collision occurs at high speed, resulting in serious and even catastrophic damage to the vehicle, other vehicles and obstacles, and to the driver and passengers. Damages in sudden acceleration cases often include the following:

  • Property damage
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma, PTSD, and any other applicable non-economic damages

seattle car accident lawyer

If you experienced an accident due to an accelerator that malfunctioned and caused a high-speed collision, you shouldn’t be left responsible for the damages. By filing an accident claim with a Seattle car accident attorneys, you can recover your financial losses while focusing on your physical recovery.

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