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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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A $248 million verdict leads automaker to file appeal

Families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in an accident are entitled to seek compensation from whoever is judged to be responsible. Many Wisconsin juries have found in favor of those plaintiffs when lawsuits have gone to trial. Currently, in another state, a trial of this type has ended with a large jury award. The families of two boys killed in a 2011 car accident are set to receive $8 million for expenses, and $240 million in punitive damages, according to reports.

The defendant has reported it will appeal the verdict. As a matter of legal course, this is often what happens when high value awards are made against big corporations. In this case, the U.S.-based subsidiary of a foreign carmaker refutes the plaintiffs' claims that the accident was a result of a defective vehicle.

The crash occurred in 2011. A 19-year-old man was driving his 14-year-old cousin at the time. The complaint alleged the part known as a steering knuckle spontaneously cracked due to a defect, and it caused the car to veer into another car. Although not part of this lawsuit, the driver of the other car was also killed. The defendant's rebuttal during the two-week trial included its claim that exploding fireworks in the car caused the driver's loss of control.

The auto company maintains it was not to blame, but the jury disagreed. A 12-hour deliberation led to the award. In addition, according to the verdict sheet, they found the defendant acted with actual malice.

Acknowledging the tragedy, a company spokesman stated the verdict is outrageous. Its immediate appeal will request it be overturned based on evidence proving the company bears no liability for the plaintiffs' loss.

A skilled evaluation of an accident investigation, police reports and survivors' needs will lead to the most effective strategies through which compensation can be sought. Even though the defendant's appeal prolongs conclusion of the matter, the knowledgeable presentation of the facts will help to keep the positive result for the survivors intact.

Source: Claims Journal, "Hyundai America to Appeal $248 Million Verdict" Jessica Dye, May. 15, 2014

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