Floor Mat Gets Stuck and Causes a Car to Accelerate When Intending to Brake, Severely Injuring Plaintiff


This case involves an accident where the plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while crossing an intersection. The vehicle accelerated rapidly and ran over the plaintiff, who sustained serious injuries. Among other parties, the plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the floor mats in the vehicle because the carpet/mat underneath the driver’s foot was stuck on the gas pedal. The driver had stepped on the brake pedal, but instead of braking, powered the accelerator, possibly because of the design of the floor mats. The mats did not have any fasteners securing them in place and were OEM provided by one of the world’s largest automobile makers.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Could the design of the floor mats have played a role in the accident, and is there generally a mechanism in place to prevent floor mats from coiling up beneath an accelerator pedal?

Expert Witness Response E-004579

I have extensive experience with automotive floor mat and carpet design, auto service, as well as with product development. There are a number of things that could have been wrong with the floor mats including their design and the lack of fasteners. Generally, floor mats have two or three fasteners that are used to prevent accidents caused by the mat. I have spent approximately five years in the “floor mat” world and would argue that I have essentially “written the book” on safe floor mat design. I have worked in all aspects of floor mat design, coordinating between textile suppliers, providers of retention systems, as well as the automotive companies. Also, I have worked extensively as a product development and design engineer on floor mats, designing floor mats for other automobile companies.

Expert Witness Response E-004580

I am already thinking of several different scenarios that could have played out here causing the vehicle to accelerate in an unintentional way. The floor mat’s design, especially with no fasteners, may have played a role, as most luxury vehicles have some mechanism to keep the floor mats in place. I am very familiar with luxury cars’ floor mats, and I worked as an engineering and quality manager in the floor mat’s business for several years. I know exactly what this case is referring to. I used to do these types of reviews on behalf of floor mat producers all the time, whether it related to litigation claims against a floor mat company or involved warranty claims by customers.

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