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Driver blames stuck accelerator for Kansas City Starbucks crash

Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a 2012 traffic accident overview. Kansas had 405 fatal accidents out of more than 32,470 lethal collisions nationwide. Alcohol-related fatalities made up about 24 percent of Kansas crashes and more than 30 percent of nationwide auto accidents.

The majority of crashes on U.S. roads are due to driver error or poor choices, such as ones made by drunk drivers. Mechanical failure collisions happen less frequently but, when they occur, the damage can be just as devastating. A vehicle owner's lax care, a servicer's mistake or a manufacturing defect may be to blame.

A late-model Toyota SUV driver smashed into and through a Kansas City coffee shop recently. Witnesses said it looked like the driver put her foot on the gas before the vehicle slammed through the wall of Starbucks. The driver said the SUV was out of her control.

The Toyota's accelerator reportedly was stuck on full throttle, a situation the driver said she could not undo. Thirteen people were injured in the Starbucks SUV accident; five were taken to the hospital. None of the victims' injuries were life-threatening.

One victim, treated for a leg injury, said she might have been hurt far more seriously had a friend not pulled her out of the Toyota's path. In the aftermath, the victim noticed the SUV stopped right where she had been seated.

Sudden acceleration complaints have plagued Toyota for years. As the New York Times reported in October, a jury ruled that Toyota had reckless disregard for customers' acceleration worries. The lawsuit was settled before the court could make a decision about punitive damages.

The reputation-damaging decision was a blow to the car maker, which has been forced to recall over 11 million vehicles since 2009.

A defectively designed, built or serviced vehicle can be a traffic time bomb. Unsuspecting motorists and other victims are entitled to request damages for harm caused by manufacturer negligence.

Source: kctv5.com, "Eight injured when car plows into Kansas City area Starbucks" Sandra Olivas, Nov. 30, 2013

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