The idea of a motorist crashing a vehicle into a shopping center store and hitting customers inside seems at first blush to be a very rare occurrence. However, it happens more often than most people would think, and when it does occur, loss of life and personal injury are often involved. It happened in Tennessee just two days before the Christmas holiday when a 60-year-old woman drove her Jeep into a FedEx store and seriously injured two customers inside.
Police are investigating the Chatanooga car crash, and they say that charges are pending. It's clear, however, that the woman lost control of her vehicle and did not intentionally create the accident. At least one witness surmised that she was frustrated in backing out of a parking space and decided to "punch" the gas to speed up her exit. From that point, she "spun around" and came right into the store. The FedEx store had to shut down.
One victim was dragged out from under the Jeep and another was struck by its front bumper. The injured victims were taken to a local hospital with undisclosed injuries. Speculation may center on a gas pedal getting stuck, which is a common defect in many cars. However, the driver's foot could have gotten stuck in some other way.
The driver could have had a medical emergency. The statement by police that charges are pending hints at initial findings of negligence or even gross negligence. In any event, the injured parties may assert a claim for personal injury against the driver. In some instances, there may also be an additional claim under Tennessee law against the car manufacturer on a product liability tort claim. Under these facts, a claim could potentially exist with respect to a defective gas pedal that periodically sticks due to a defective design.
Source: wrcbtv.com, "UPDATE: Jeep crashes into Fedex storefront, injuring 3", Dec. 23, 2015