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Congress may review Honda crushing death of teenager

Routine activities in a vehicle may prove to be fatal if the vehicle contains design flaws.

Information about the death of a high school sophomore crushed by a seat in his Honda Odyssey is being sought by the incoming chairperson of the House subcommittee that oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This fatal accident demonstrates how allegations of unsafe design and inaction can combine into a potential wrongful death case.

The Honda Odyssey had a series of complaints about seat latching and stability problems. An internal investigator's memorandum indicated that he had problems latching the same type of seat that led to the death of a 16-year-old in Cincinnati in his 2004 Honda Odyssey last April 10.

His vehicle had three rows of seats. There was a front, middle and a third bench seat in which the bench could be folded and stored in the trunk. The rear bench was believed to have been in the down position, but a rear tire in the middle seats may have prevented the bench on the third seat from being latched properly.

The victim sat on the bench to tie his gym shoes. When he reached in the trunk for his shoes, the heavy bench and seat flipped over and pinned him in the truck as it exerted 69.2 pounds of pressure upon him. He called 911 but died from asphyxia from chest compression.

The incoming chairperson claimed that the NHTSA did not fully investigate this matter and called on Honda to ensure the safety of its vehicles. Lawmakers from both parties demanded further investigation of this accident.

However, NHTSA is currently affected by the ongoing government shutdown. Field crash investigations, consumer complaint reviews and notification of vehicle and equipment recalls were also placed on hold.

Families who experience the loss of a loved one may be entitled to compensation if another person's negligence caused this death. A lawyer can help assure that proof is gathered and a timely lawsuit is filed.

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