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Toyota 4Runner SUV Rollover Lawsuit Filed Over Fatal Crash

  • Written by: AboutLawsuits
  • 13 Comments

The family of a California woman killed in an SUV rollover accident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota alleging that the design of its 4Runner caused the fatal crash.

The Toyota 4Runner lawsuit was filed by the husband and daughter of Elisa Obediente, who died in a May 2009 accident when her SUV rolled over after she over-steered to avoid another vehicle during a lane change. In the accident, the 4Runner rolled over, the roof collapsed inward and Obediente was partially ejected.

According to the complaint, the family claims that the 1998 Toyota 4Runner SUV involved in the accident was inherently unstable and lacked available technologies that could have prevented the rollover and avoided roof crush damage.

The lawsuit suggests that Toyota could have employed Electronic Stability Control (ESC) technology that existed at the time of the vehicle’s development to prevent over steer and rollovers. The plaintiffs claim that the 4Runner is the second most likely vehicle to roll in its class, and that Toyota’s own in-house testing revealed its propensity to roll over at speeds as low as 32 m.p.h.

Toyota also allegedly did not include reasonable alternative designs that could have prevented the 4Runner roof collapse in the rollover. The plaintiffs indicate that Toyota was aware of both the dangers of roof crush damage and the availability of affordable technology to prevent the damage long before the SUV was developed. Plaintiffs allege that the use of stronger materials would have prevented catastrophic consequences of the rollover at little additional cost for the development and manufacture of the SUV.

Toyota purposefully mislead the public, falsified test results, suppressed and ignored data and even urged consumers to have alterations done to the 4Runner that caused even more instability, the lawsuit claims. The family seeks compensation for wrongful death, loss of financial support, care, love, companionship, solace, comfort and moral support.

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13 comments

  1. Eric Reply

    I’ve fishtailed my 4runner at 65mph on dry pavement trying to avoid a person turning infront of me. People need to stop blaming the cars they decide to purchase for accidents that are caused by drivers that are incapable of handling the vehicle. Talk about overreaction (a lane change????!!!). Someone shouldve taught this woman about her brakes. Guaraunteed this 4runner never saw off road use, and probably rarely saw it’s cargo hatch used. These people need to buy cars instead of thinking that they look cute in an suv or truck. Better yet, force them to learn how to drive in the first place, instead of just getting from point a to point b while talking on the phone and applying makeup.

  2. PHILIP Reply

    I had 3 narrow escapes from my 2000 model 4Runner steering out of control, all the time I was driving below 35 miles/hr. Toyota 4Runner is a real danager to drive.

  3. Robyn Reply

    I traded in a 1993 Camary to purchase my 1996 4-Runner to pull a camper I had purchased. I purchased the truck used with 40K miles on it and it now has 218k on it.
    I love Toyota’s and will purchase another in the future. However the article just published in the USA Today about the information that has been with held on this model frightens me!
    I have felt my 4-Runner come off the ground before and could have easily rolled it.
    When my son got his license, I bought him a car right away because I did not want him driving my SUV. There is to much play in the way this truck handles. I have no choice but to drive this truck till it dies…..or I do! I lost my job so there is no way for me to purchase another vehicle at this time.
    What happens now? Do I have to wait till something happens to me or is Toyota going to recall these trucks?
    My mechanic who has worked on this truck for 13 years sent me this article today!

  4. Walt Reply

    Wait a minute. This was a 1998 Toyota; I don’t recall stability control as an option nor requirement on these vehicles…

    Similar to Eric, I was in an incident in which my 1989 GEO Metro was fishtailing around at 60-65 MPH….I was able to recover by common sense and learned principles…

    Sadly, Toyota will lose this and/or just pay off, because in this time period, personal responsibilty has been denigrated to the courts and government…..

  5. Carlos Reply

    1998 4Runner? And then below 1993? Which model did she have, entry level, refusing to pay the extra for the features that are available. There is no such thing as a perfect vehicle. It’s the responsibility of the driver to pay attention at all times and take the appropriate action. A vehicle is not simply a mode of transportation, it is a machine.

    Not to single out women, but was she putting on make-up? Also, with any driver; was she talking on her cellphone? eating? texting? Was she speeding because she was running late?

    Too many times I have seen drivers eating burgers, with both hands! Women driving putting on mascara!

    For a vehicle of this size and weight, I believe it rolled over due to driver error. Let’s face it, a vehicle isn’t started and it decides to roll over and kill the driver that day.

    Finally, automakers have come a long way. I find that Toyota is the leader in safety, technology and style. We can hope for and expect every bell and whistle, but until they develop a vehicle that drive itself, stay within the lines and at the set speed limit, it’s our responsibility as drivers to be responsible.

  6. Carol Reply

    I am sorry for the loss of this woman, I have to say, I have owned my 1998 4Runner for over three years now and I dirve it everywhere. I consider my self a rough driver (not dangerouse), I have the VSC feature on my car and have never experienced anything close to the feel of the car is about to roll over!! I am reading this going should I be concerned, after all I have a little one to care for, but I have to say, I feel safe in my car. In case of a veh breaking in front of me I would never swerve to avoid it with an SUV, as I am aware any SUV is subject to roll in a case where you are miss handling the steering wheel.

  7. adam Reply

    i have a 98 4runeer i just got in a car accedit i crast it in to a park mail truck and the 4runner just tip over i almst lost my arm i had 9 surgs to fix it well the thing is the 4runner shude not have tip over for that cind of acc the 4runner is not a safe car

  8. Malia Reply

    I had a 2000 Toyota 4Runner for 8 years until the purchase of my 2008 Lexus RX350. I aso had narrow misses in my 4Runner, one with my daughter in the back seat. It was a classically beautiful car, and I thouht it was safe at the time. My daughter turned 16, and I chose to get her a Honda Civic instead of my old car. I loved it, though. My friend’s newer Explorer had its engine die, and my Toyota had bulletproof reliability. Never a problem. I was careful and avoided a rollover, I pray that the new owners of my car do the same.

  9. matt Reply

    This is ridiculous… I have a close friend who also rolled a 1998 4-Runner through a combination of too much speed and road conditions. She was on US 101 in a part of WA state that is notorious for ice-related accidents in the Fall/Winter months She came around a corner into a shaded area and encountered a patch of black ice, lost control and crashed. The 4-Runner was sideways when the tires regained traction so it snap-rolled sideways, then the nose caught on the edge of the road which spun the vehicle and caused it to flip end for end at least 3 times according to the State Patrol accident investigator. The 4-Runner looked like someone had rounded off all the corners and they had to cut the A and B pillars to get her out safely. She WAS wearing her seat belt and the sum total of her injuries after this horrific accident… a broken left collar-bone and a broken right thumb. Later that week, I went with her to the dealership to pick out her new 4-Runner which she took delivery of a soon as she received her insurance check.
    Seat belts and good engineering save lives. Toyota provided both but I suspect only one was used in the case of the above mentioned lawsuit/accident.

  10. EnRico Reply

    My brother was driving our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner when he was hit by a car running a red light. The vehicle rolled over multiple times and the roof crushed. He survived the crash with nonfatal injuries, but we are really concerned how the vehicle rolled over so easily. I am looking for an attorney to talk with my family about this. This 4-Runner has been a die-hard and worked great mechanically, but this roll-over incident has truly frightened our family, since we also have a 2004 4-Runner. Are we in danger? Who should we contact to ensure that this matter can be properoy addressed vs just blogging about it?

  11. Jill Reply

    My son was killed in a Toyota 4Runner from it rolling over. My cousin’s daughter was killed in a Toyota 4Runner from it rolling over. My good friend’s stepdaughter was killed by a Toyota 4Runner rolling while they were driving down the highway. Now 2 local girls (cousins) have been killed by a Toyota 4Runner rolling over. I understand that accidents happen and that other circumstances can be considered, but the fact is when I hear of a young kid getting killed from a car accident it is far too often from being in a Toyota 4Runner. Get the kids out of these SUV’s! My loss should not have to be suffered by anyone else.

  12. Trevor Reply

    I drive an 05 4runner sr5 2wd model. Anyone who buys an SUV should know its much more capable of rollover vs another vehicle. I\\\\\\\’d say more than 95% of the time it\\\\\\\’s an operator error. Going fast+turning will never end well. Learn to brake and calmly steer to avoid cars. Any jerking motions of the wheel in an SUV risks a flip. That being said I drive relatively fast and have safely avoided many deer and other cars very safely in my runner. It\\\\\\\’s a beautiful machine tis a shame bad drivers give it a bad rep.

  13. Dave Reply

    My wife rolled her 92 4runner after hitting black ice. The roof caved in on her killing her instantly… She was just 25yrs old. Death trap if you roll one of these 4 runners

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