Family of Star Trek Actor Sues Fiat Chrysler For Wrongful Death Citing Defective Shifter

Charlotte Injury Lawyer Matt Arnold answers the question: “What if I am unable to work following the accident? Will I be able to recover my lost wages?”


The family of an actor who died earlier this summer after he was crushed to death by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee has filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler, accusing the company of negligence and suing for harm related to the defective automobile.


Jeep Wheel Charlotte Injury LawyerThe case is like many others involving defective products that injure or kill unsuspecting consumers, but is different in that the victim is so high profile. The fact that Anton Yelchin appeared in blockbuster movies, like Star Trek, makes this case much more visible than most other product liability cases where victims are unknown and suffer harm outside of the media glare. The hope, among many consumer safety advocates, is that the visibility increases the pressure on Fiat Chrysler and forces action to fix a problem that’s killed one person so far and injured dozens of others.


The issue that impacted Anton’s Jeep is the same problem that affects more than 1.1 million other Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. According to consumer safety advocates, the Jeeps, and many others vehicles, have been shown to have a rollaway problem linked to the gear shifter. The shifter does not slide up and down in the way that normal automatic shifters do, but instead moves back and forward while changing gears, returning to rest in the center position after each shift.


This design element has served as the basis for many complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the NHTSA, the design of the Monostable shifter is not intuitive and it provides poor visual and tactile feedback to the driver. Additionally, the NHTSA says the design of the shift increases the risk that an unintended gear is selected, something that accident investigators believe happened here. Anton was found dead after his car rolled backward, pinning him against a wall.


Interestingly, Jeeps aren’t the only vehicles with similar shifters. The Audi A8 uses something similar, but includes an additional safety feature to avoid potential harm. If the vehicle believes the driver is exiting the car without putting it into park, a safety feature automatically activates the electronic parking brake, ensuring a rollaway doesn’t occur. In the case of the Jeep, no such automatic feature exists.


The problem is a serious one and led not only to the death of Anton, but to injuries of 68 others. In addition, 266 vehicles were involved in crashes related to this issue and 308 people reported incidents of property damage. Despite the mounting evidence of a defective device, the automaker has said only that rollaways occur because drivers mistakenly fail to put the vehicle into park and don’t set the emergency brake. Anton’s family clearly believes the problem lies with Chrysler, not the driver, and intend to use their wrongful death complaint to demonstrate this.


Given these troubles, Fiat Chrysler announced a major recall earlier this year. The company has since been working on software updates to remedy the problem, so far projecting that the fix could be accomplished later in 2016. In the meantime, owners of millions of cars and trucks are stuck waiting to solve a problem that could endanger their lives and those around them.


If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.


About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.





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