Unintentional Acceleration Leads to Serious Car Accident


This case involves an automobile that unintentionally accelerated, causing the vehicle to strike a tree and injure the driver, causing the driver to sue the car dealership and manufacturer under state-defined Lemon Laws. The plaintiff, a forty-three-year-old female, was driving on a rural road when her vehicle suddenly accelerated. The plaintiff was unable to stop the acceleration, and she lost control of the vehicle as it veered off the road and struck a tree. The plaintiff sustained a concussion and multiple lacerations on her face and arms. A specialist in vehicle accident reconstruction and with ACTAR certification is considered to opine on the case.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What caused the vehicle to suddenly accelerate?

Expert Witness Response E-000241

Many vehicles have an electronic throttle system. If the control module sends an errant signal, the throttle can open causing the automobile to suddenly accelerate. The software to analyze this potential error, however, is usually owned by the car manufacturer. Therefore, the scan will have to be conducted by the vehicle manufacturer. Once the subject vehicle is turned off, the accelerator will close and return to its pre-crash condition. A post-crash mechanical inspection will probably not be able to show the open throttle. A speed calculation would have to be based on the download or crush deformation. This sudden acceleration problem did exist with other types of automobiles, and NHTSA investigated the error. I am a traffic accident reconstruction specialist with over 1800 full-scale collision investigations and component defect evaluations. I am also a certified court expert with over twenty-seven years experience in collision reconstruction, defect investigations, biomechanical analysis, and injury causation studies.

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