Evidence of “Other Similar Incidents” in Product Liability Lawsuits

When someone is injured while using any kind of product, they may be able to seek compensation for their injuries through a product liability lawsuit filed against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product. In many cases, these lawsuits do not require that a plaintiff establish that the named defendants knew about the alleged defect; however, additional damages may be available if a plaintiff is able to prove that the defendant knew about the defect and failed to correct it.

Disc BrakesOne key issue in many product liability cases is the availability and admissibility of “other similar incident” evidence, or OSI evidence. OSI evidence is important for product liability plaintiffs to understand, and it can be very persuasive because it may show that a defendant manufacturer should have known about the alleged defect, based on the other reported incidents. However, courts are careful about admitting OSI evidence because it may complicate matters for the jury and can result in undue prejudice. A recent case illustrates how plaintiffs in a recent car accident case were able to admit OSI evidence.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were stopped at a red light on a highway off-ramp when they were rear-ended by another motorist who was driving a 1996 Toyota Camry. The Camry was traveling at approximately 75 miles per hour when it rear-ended the plaintiffs. Two of the five plaintiffs in the vehicle were killed as a result of the accident, one sustained a traumatic brain injury, one was left a paraplegic, and the final plaintiff suffered a broken leg.

A few years after the accident, Toyota recalled many Camrys – including the one involved in this case – due to reports that the vehicles were randomly accelerating and could not be stopped by applying the brakes. After the recall, the plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against Toyota.

During the trial, the plaintiffs presented an expert witness who presented OSI evidence of several other instances in which a 1996 Toyota Camry with over 100,000 miles randomly accelerated and could not be stopped by applying the brakes. Toyota objected to the admission of this evidence, but the trial court allowed the evidence, and the jury returned a $14 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.

On appeal, Toyota claimed that the lower court was wrong to allow the OSI evidence. However, the court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that there are valid concerns with OSI evidence, but in this case, the OSI evidence was so similar to the facts of the case that it was instructive to the jury regarding Toyota’s knowledge of the alleged defect.

As a result, the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiffs was affirmed.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Whether the accident was due to another motorist’s negligence or a faulty or defective part in your own vehicle, the dedicated Virginia personal injury attorneys at Charles B. Roberts, P.C. can help you seek the compensation you deserve. With decades of experience standing up for the rights of injured Virginians, Attorney Roberts knows what it takes to succeed on behalf of his clients in Virginia courts. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Virginia personal injury attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2017.

Court Determines Accumulated Rainfall May Constitute Dangerous Condition, Depending on Surrounding Circumstances, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 26, 2017.