Jury orders Hyundai to pay $150 million plus after finding defective steering knuckle in fatal Tiburon accident

by Eric Pearson

Trevor Olson was driving a 2005 Hyundai Tiburon coupe when the vehicle slammed head-on into another car, killing the 19 year old and his cousin, 14 year old Tanner Olson. Their families filed a lawsuit over the fatal car accident against Hyundai, alleging the crash was caused by a defective steering knuckle in the Tiburon. The steering wheel is connected to the suspension and wheels of a car via the steering knuckles, which connects the steering wheel to the rest of the car, allowing the driver to direct the vehicle.

The lawsuit against Hyundai alleged the defective steering knuckle caused the car to suddenly veer into an oncoming lane and crash into another car. A passenger in that car, 21-year-old Stephanie Nicole, was also killed. Her husband and two children were severely injured.

Hyundai argued that the damage to the steering knuckle was the result of, not the cause of, the head-on crash. A Lake County, Montana jury has disagreed and determined that a manufacturing defect in the Tiburon caused the crash. The jury awarded the families $8.6 million in actual damages and lost earnings. Apparently based in part on claims that Hyundai’s steering knuckle has been defective in other cases, the jury also ordered Hyundai to pay $240 million in punitive damages. Hyundai has announced it intends to appeal.

HO&P and Auto Safety

The manufacturers of cars and trucks have an obligation to ensure that the vehicles they sell are as safe as possible under current technology, vehicle design, and safety standards. Automakers are also obligated to design cars and trucks that are safe for any reasonable foreseeable use. Cars must be both reasonably safe when an accident occurs while also being equipped with technology that could help prevent a crash from occurring. When vehicles are not manufactured in accordance with current safety standards and federal laws governing vehicle safety, the carmaker may be held liable in a court of law for the injuries caused by their vehicles.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident, it may well be that the accident was caused by a defect with the automobile. It is also possible that your injuries were caused or made worse because the vehicle was defective or not sufficiently crashworthy. In order to determine whether you may have a case, you need to retain experienced, qualified legal counsel at the earliest opportunity.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the experience and knowledge to pursue cases involving automotive defects and vehicle crashworthiness against any of the major auto manufacturers.

Defective products: protect your rights

To successfully bring a claim involving a defective product, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from start to finish. In fact, there are many instances in which we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas* for several years in a row.

Contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free legal consultation form.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2014.