Anton Yelchin rose to stardom in the 2009 film “Star Trek,” and fans were devastated to learn of the actor’s recent death in California. Yelchin was killed by his own vehicle. His death has raised serious concerns regarding his vehicle — a Chrysler Jeep — that was recalled because of a serious design flaw with the transmission. It’s also possible that Chrysler could soon face an onslaught of product liability claims regarding its defective vehicles.
Yelchin was not actually in his vehicle at the time of his death, although he had been just prior. After exiting and walking away, the vehicle then rolled down the driveway, struck Yelchin and left him pinned between the vehicle and a brick mailbox. His exact cause of death was listed as asphyxia from blunt force.
This is not the first time this type of accident has occurred with the Chrysler Jeep, but it is the first known one that resulted in a fatality. The defect is related to the vehicle’s electronic gear selector. Unlike a typical gear selector in which the driver moves a lever to select reverse, park, drive or neutral, the Jeep’s selector functions by using a toggle that self-centers and then cycles through the different possible transmission modes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received hundreds of complaints regarding the gear shift. There have also been 41 confirmed injuries related to the issue.
A recall was issued for the Jeep and other makes using the same technology, and Chrysler issued new warnings regarding the use of the gear shifts. Still, simply recalling a defective product does not erase a company’s responsibility for designing, manufacturing and distributing that product in the first place. When California consumers are harmed or fatally injured by an inherently defective product, victims and their families can hold companies financially responsible through the successful actions of a product liability suit.
Source: Fox News, “Jeep involved in fatal Anton Yelchin accident was subject of safety recall“, June 20, 2016