Automobile Expert Witness Opines on Sudden Unintended Acceleration

    This case involves a thirty-three-year-old woman who was driving an automobile that unintentionally accelerated and ultimately crashed into another parked vehicle. The plaintiff had just left her home and was driving at approximately thirty-five-miles-per-hour. When she released her foot from the accelerator, the pedal was stuck to the floor mat, rendering it unresponsive and causing the vehicle to increase its speed. The plaintiff applied her brakes, but this did little to slow the speed of the vehicle. The plaintiff was aware of an approaching intersection and made the decision to veer into a parked vehicle to stop her automobile’s forward motion. The plaintiff sustained a concussion, a broken clavicle, and three broken ribs, and she consequently sued the car’s manufacturer under her state’s Lemon Laws for damages.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. What caused the vehicles sudden unintended acceleration?

    Expert Witness Response

    Unintentional acceleration may be caused by automotive mechanical or electrical problems. Mechanically speaking, the pedal that controls the automobiles acceleration could become entrapped and therefore unresponsive. From an electrical standpoint, the electronic throttle control, commonly referred to as cruise control could become unresponsive. In this case, the pedal mechanism failed to function properly as it was inhibited by the floor mat. While the floor mat is separate from the acceleration mechanism, its design should be very closely considered during the manufacturing process. I have over fifteen years experience in accident reconstruction and an automobile defect investigations.

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