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Lawsuit challenges 'official' investigation of Paul Walker crash

Typically when we think about personal injury lawsuits stemming from fatal car accidents in Connecticut and elsewhere, we think about other negligent drivers being sued.

However, if the vehicle itself was defective or improperly designed and that led to the accident, the vehicle manufacturer can be named as a defendant in a products liability lawsuit for damages.

This is what the widow of a man who was killed in a fiery accident in November involving a sports car is trying to do in a lawsuit against Porsche. The accident made headlines as it also claimed the life of Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" film series.

In the lawsuit, the widow alleges that the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT her husband was driving did not have a proper crash cage or safety features that could have saved the lives of her husband and Walker, who both died after the vehicle crashed into a light pole in California and erupted into flames.

The lawsuit alleges that "[t]he Carrera GT was unsafe for its intended use by reason of defects in its manufacture, design, testing, component and constituents, so that it would not safely serve its purpose," which is language commonly used in products liability cases involving alleged automobile defects.

The lawsuit challenges a determination made by law enforcement investigators that unsafe speeds, not mechanical problems, caused the accident.

The results of an official investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol concluded that the car was traveling at speeds of up to 94 mph when it crashed. However, engineers from Porsche assisted with the investigation, which some would say represents a conflict of interest.

An attorney for the widow said that they commissioned their own “unbiased” investigative team of top experts who determined that the driver of the Carrera GT was actually only traveling 55 mph when the crash occurred and a failure in the rare sports car’s suspension system is what caused the driver to lose control.

This case shows just how different the results from two investigations following a serious accident can be. That’s why experienced personal injury lawyers often hire experts to conduct their own investigations without merely accepting an “official” investigation as the truth.

Source: Associated Press, “Porsche sued over crash that killed Paul Walker,” May 13, 2014

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