A fatal car accident killed both their parents and their 90-year-old grandmother. Three of the four sisters had been in the car at the time of the collision, headed to a family reunion in Texas. They were seriously injured, but survived.
It wasn’t long after the crash that questions started to arise about what had happened and why. Specifically, what was going on with the airbags and why didn’t they deploy? As the Star-Telegram reports, the family was traveling in a Kia Sedona minivan. They were struck head-on by a Pontiac Bonneville when the driver crossed the center line while traveling on U.S. 67. The oldest sister was working and not traveling to the reunion with them that day.
Recovering from physical and emotional injuries, the sisters allege the local car dealership disconnected the fuse to the airbag system. In a lawsuit filed two years ago, the sisters say that when the dealership removed the cable from the deployment sensor, they also fraudulently replaced the seat sensor. The pre-owned vehicle dealership sold the deceased parents the van at one of its discount lots. Plaintiffs say the dealership employees’ actions caused the injuries and deaths in the crash. They do not allege defendants caused the crash, but rather that the injuries sustained were much more severe than they otherwise would have been.
The dealership and its parent company insist the airbags were safe and not tampered with. In a joint statement, defendants say there is no evidence that anyone who worked for any of their companies tampered with the vehicle to cover up some type of airbag defect. The sole cause of the car accident and injuries in this case, insist the defendants, is the speeding driver who crossed the yellow line and hit the victims head-on.
Plaintiff attorneys say proving this case, slated to go to trial in February, is going to involve presentation of evidence that the prior owner of the vehicle had repeated problems with the airbag light remaining on. The plaintiffs’ legal team started to explore the various troubleshooting protocols when inspecting the vehicle because of this problem. An attorney said the theory is that while the dealership was following its protocol in figuring out this issue, a worker didn’t put in the fuse or reconnect the airbag sensors. He said most likely, he “has to believe” this was merely a careless oversight, not an intentional act of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, he calls the error “egregious.”
The wrongful death lawsuit further alleges the company that sold the van did so without revealing it had a history of problems with the airbag. The van had been purchased just three weeks before the fatal crash. Plaintiffs say the crash was survivable, and that had the airbags deployed, the decedents – particularly their parents – would still be alive.
Plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $1 million for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Prior to the wreck, the complaint says, the three younger sisters were well-adjusted, happy teens. They had been adopted by the decedents. Now, the oldest sister (biological daughter of decedents) says, the girls have nightmares. They remember everything about the accident and being powerless to save their parents.
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A deadly crash, an airbag lawsuit and four sisters’ plight, Sept. 19, 2016, By Elizabeth Campbell, Star-Telegram
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